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Sunday Afternoon Lectures 




U. S. District Judge. 


C. F. Thomas, Book and Job Printer. 


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1883, by 

In the office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington. 


The Influence of Poetry ox National Development. 
The Influence of the Bible on Modern Civilization. 

Poetry is an interesting and instructive part of a nation's 
history, as it is a production of the intellectual and moral 
faculties, feelings and sentiments of the people. 

These faculties, feelings and sentiments are awakened 
and intensified, in a great degree, by the spectacles of 
natural beauty and usefulness presented in the earth, seas 
and skies, which are produced by the wondrous combina- 
tions of physical laws and agencies everywhere evidencing 
a wisdom, power and goodness, higher, purer and vaster 
than human intellect and benevolence; and ever lifting the 
soul in love, adoration and praise to the great Creator and 
benefactor, and to the immortal life of a higher and more 
effulgent glory yet to come. In the poetry of a nation 
we can feel the pulse-throb of national life that shows its 
healthful development or decay. 

In the history of the past we find that a poetic spirit 
has existed in a more eminent degree in some nations than 
in others; but among all the higher types of mankind — 
those races which have exerted a marked influence upon 
human progress — poetic feeling ?.nd sentiment seem to 
have permeated the entire mass of the population. These 
feelings and sentiments were imperceptibly formed by the 
pure aspirations, affections and emotions of man's better 
nature. They were the spirit-voices of the true, the 
beautiful and the good which rose above the jarring dis- 
cords of selfishness, passion, prejudice and strife that 
marred the happiness and beauty of everyday life, and 

blended into the sweet harmonies of domestic joy and 
the noble amenities and gentle charities of social com- 
munion and brotherhood. 

The Samian philosopher, in studying - the principles of 
music, and observing the order, regularity and harmony 
with which the celestial bodies moved through the heavens, 
formed the beautiful conception that the spheres of dif- 
ferent magnitudes and velocity, by striking against the 
ether, produced a music unheard by mortal ears, but ever 
swelling in glorious harmonies. Modern science, in dis- 
covering the universal power of gravitation which controls 
the motion of the planets as they roll in perfect harmony 
and beauty in the vast fields of immensity, has not entirely 
dispelled the old philosophic dream, and the imaginative 
mind still fancies that the morning stars have not ceased 
the song they sang at creation's dawn, when the "sons of 
God shouted for joy." How beautifully is this idea present- 
ed by Shakespeare in the Merchant of Venice. 

" Look how the floor of heaven 
Is thick inlaid with patines ot bright gold. 
There is not the smallest orb which thou beholdest 
But in his motion like an angel sings, 
Still quiring to the young-ey'd Cherubins; 
Such harmony is in immortal souls, 
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay 
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it." 

Science has made us acquainted with the existence and 
with some of the influences of gravitation, but we know 
very little of the source, nature and extent of that 
wondrous power that pervades the universe. As this 
incomprehensible force regulates and controls the motions 
and relations of the celestial bodies, so there are mysteri- 
ous and all-pervading influences which link the hearts of 
mankind with chords of kindred sympathies. From these 
interlinking and intermingling heart-chords many sponta- 
neous thoughts, feelings and emotions of the soul sound 
out and blend into the sweetest harmonies of life — just as 
the viewless winds wake soft molodies on /Eolean harp- 


strings. These soul harmonies give inspiration to genius. 
They form and color the ideal conceptions of the artist; 
they are heard in the music of the simple home song, the 
ballad of the minstrel, the enchanting opera, the sublime 
oritorio and the soul-thrilling anthem. The poet gives 
them sweet utterance in the musical elegance and pathos 
of the lyric, and the eloquent strains and flowing rhythm 
of epic verse. 

In the infancy of nations, like in the time of childhood, 
we find the imaginative faculties more highly developed 
than the reasoning powers. The literary memorials of 
nearly every people, in their first rude stages of develop- 
ment — the period of national childhood — are the songs of 
bards which give expression to earnest and impassioned 
popular thought, imagination and feeling in language 
glowing with enthusiasm and highly wrought imagery. 
In the more advanced stages of progress, experiment, 
education and other elements of civilization produce the 
profound maxims and truths of science and philosophy, 
and teach the more practical duties and destinies of life; 
but the poetic feelings and sentiments which influenced 
earlier generations are not destroyed, as they are deeply 
implanted in the human heart, and they are elevated and 
refined by the ennobling and expanding influences of the 
enlightened mind; and they waken and vibrate with 
harmony when the mystic strings of the heart are touched 
by some master hand of genius. 

The real and full history of a nation never has, and never 
can be written, as the various and minute causes and events 
which form and regulate national life pass away like the 
germs, the buds and blossoms of spring that change into 
the golden harvests of summer and the rich fruits of the 

We see grand social and political results, and in some 
degree comprehend the proximate causes which produced 
them, but we know very little of the minute original ele- 

ments which were silently and mysteriously combined to 
form such proximate causes. The little first elements of 
human development are fully known only to the Infinite 
Mind that mingled them together into creating and con- 
trolling powers. Thus it is in the natural world. We see 
some of the results of the tempest — hear the reverberat- 
ing thunder and are dazzled with the gleaming lightning, 
but we know little of when, where, how and why were 
formed the cloud-chariots in which the majestic storm 
moves in grandeur through the darkened skies. 

We see the rich landscape spread out in vernal beauty, 
but we are unable by any process of artistic analysis to 
tell with completeness and accuracy how its lights and 
shades and various objects were produced and skilfully 
blended into picturesque loveliness. We see the ever- 
rolling river as it moves grandly to the sea, widening and 
deepening as it flows, but we cannot trace its course back 
to the thousand springs that swell its volume as they 
trickle from mountain crags or with musical gladness gush 
from the bosom of the valleys. 

Thus it is with a nation's poetry. There were thous- 
ands of humble hearts that, in poverty and obscurity, 
throbbed with loves, hopes, joys and fears, and, almost 
unconsciously, produced thoughts and fancies of the finest 
poetry that mingled with a nation's literature; just like 
the perfume of flowers mingling into a balmy atmos- 
phere, or like tiny rippling rills swelling the currents of 
broad and sun-bright rivers, that flow with majestic 
harmony and join the sublime and ever-sounding sympho- 
nies of the seas. 

We cannot tell when and how God sows the seeds of 
the wild flowers, that steal into bloom and perfume and 
embellish the earth; how with sunshine, rain drops and 
gentle dews, and the various agencies in His wondrous 
laboratory, He changes the scattered grain of the husband- 
man into the golden harvests; how He keeps in perennial 

flow the limpid fountains that supply the singing rills 
that keep fresh the verdure of the hillsides and the valleys; 
and how He teaches the joyous birds to trill their glad- 
some notes of melody. 

God formed the earth as a beautiful home for man, and 
it was consecrated with His benediction and the songs of 
the angels. He also gave to man the faculties for per- 
ceiving and appreciating the true, the beautiful and the 
good, and enabled him to express his feelings and emo- 
tions of love, joy, hope and devotion in the rhythmic 
strains of poetry and the sweet, soft notes of melody. 
Poetry and music may well be considered as ministering 
angels which ever keep in living purity and freshness on 
earth some of the bliss of the sinless Eden. 

The poet who said "Let me write a nation's songs, and 
I care not who writes its laws," was, by no means, a 
visionary enthusiast, but he was a profound philosopher, 
who, by intuition, observation and experience, had learned 
some of the strong influences which mould a nation's life. 
The songs and poems of a nation are important elements 
in its history, and they furnish the words, thoughts and 
imagery that sparkle like jewels in its language and lit- 

While the Welsh Bards lived their nation was uncon- 
querable. With rude minstrelsy they aroused the enthu- 
siastic patriotism of that brave and imaginative people 
who loved liberty and the craggy mountains and wild 
valleys that lie between the Severn and the sea. 

The simple songs which are sung in the cottages among 
the Hartz mountains and beside the Baltic, the Danube 
and the Rhine link even the self-exiled German to the 
memories and scenes of the Vaterland with ties of love 
and devotion which time and distance are powerless to 

The Ranz des Vaches is indeed to the Switzer a song of 
home, and when heard even in the fairest climes of the 


earth causes tears of love to flow, and carries his heart 
back again to the humble cottage where his mother nursed 
him in the Alpine glen. 

The Marseilles Hymn inspired French patriots with 
dauntless heroism in the early years of that grand revolu- 
tion which so long filled Europe with mourning and the 
horrors of strife and carnage, and resulted in misery and 
martial glory, but not freedom to France. 

"God Save the Queen" is intimately associated with 
England's greatness and renown, and keeps in glowing 
life the national love and loyalty of those brave and gal- 
lant sailors and soldiers whose reveille greets the rising sun 
as it gilds with morning light every clime of the earth. 

" The Star Spangled Banner " fills every patriotic Amer- 
ican heart with love and pride for that glorious land whose 
flag of stars is the emblem of freedom, and whose protec- 
tion and power are co-extensive with the globe. 

"Home Sweet Home" is one of the dearest and most 
touching domestic lyrics that human voice has ever sung, 
and is almost worthy of the lips of the sinless Seraphim. 
Its tender pathos causes the eyes to fill with tears and 
the bosom to swell with the holiest and purest emotions. 

" Old Hundred" makes us think of brave, noble and 
glorious old Luther, and it is one of the grandest te deums 
that ever rose from human hearts and swelled through 
the aisles and arches of the earthly temples of Jehovah. 

The grand events of the battlefield, the policies of 
rulers, and the laws of legislative assemblies form renowned 
epochs in a nation's history, but they furnish little knowl- 
edge of its inner life, or those secret causes which silently 
and surely formed and developed its destiny. If we view 
only the few transactions preserved by the historic muse 
we will not possess a more accurate idea of the peculiar 
characteristics of a nation than we would have of its geog- 
raphy and scenery by catching glimpses of the grand out- 
lines of its country through the hazy curtain of the distance. 

How little would the traveler know of Scotland by 
standing upon the castle of Edenboro and gazing over 

"That land ot brown heath and shaggy wood, 
Land of the mountain and the flood." 

He would see Holyrood surrounded by the hallowed 
memories of Scotland's royalty. He would see the ivy- 
clad ruins of old baronial castles, where Wallace, the 
Bruce and Douglas fought for freedom; but he would 
know little 

"Of those hills of glorious deeds, 

Those streams renowned in song, 
The blithesome braes and meads, 

Our hearts have loved so long." 

He might see through the azure distance Ben Lomond 
and Ben Nevis, stern and wild, baring their rocky breasts 
to the storm as they had done for ages, but he would 
know nothing of Lock Katrine and Lock Lomond resting 
so placidly among the Highlands, and ever reflecting 
images of the beauties of nature that enchant their shores; 
or of the heathery hillsides where Roderick Dhu and 
MacGregor trod as lords, and were as free and fearless as 
the wild eagle of the mountains. He might see the gray 
Grampian and the Cheviot hills, the shimmering sunlight 
on the misty moorlands, the shining Forth and the lofty 
cliffs that mark the course of the distant Clyde, all blend- 
ing into landscapes of imposing grandeur and rural beauty; 
but he would know nothing of the humble kirks where, 
with earnest hearts, a noble and hardy yeomanry meet to 
worship God in their father's simple faith, and where are 
heard the mournful requiems of the shadowing elms be- 
neath whose quivering shades the hero martyrs of the 
Covenant sleep in hallowed graves. 

He would know nothing of the virtue, contentment 
and domestic bliss of the cotter's home; or the simple 
joys in the hamlets on the " Banks of Doon," where 
the Ploughman Poet sang his matchless lays; or of the 


musical rills and trysting trees in the shady glens where 
many a Highland Mary listened to the whispered vows of 

No one can know the history of Scotland, with all its 
thrilling incidents and sacred memories unless he has read 
her ballad minstrelsy and the matchless poems of her 
mighty sons of genius, who have invested her with the 
halo of song and old romance, made her a home of poesy, 
and enshrined her name in every heart that loves the 
true, the beautiful and the brave. 

On many pages of recorded history we find some evi- 
dence of the influence of poetry in the formation of 
national character. The age of Homer was the com- 
mencement of Grecian glory. His transcendent genius 
not only gave immortality to his country, but created 
classic literature. His wonderful poems kindled those 
fires of patriotism, freedom and love of glory in his na- 
tion's heart which in after times shone so brightly in the 
wisdom of her philosophers and law-givers, in the match- 
less productions of her painters and sculptors, in the 
immortal tragedies, epics and songs of her poets, in the 
indomitable valor of her heroes and in the thrilling elo- 
quence of her orators. His magic touch unsealed the 
fountains of Castalia and Hippocrene and made all the 
hills and vales of Greece the homes of the gods and the 
haunts of the Muses. Who can ever think of Greece, and 
forget the mighty bard who breathed the inspirations of 
genius into her national life. Her political power has 
passed away, her magnificent temples are now in ruins, 
the remnants of her art treasures are scattered over the 
civilized world, and the blood of the heroes of Marathon 
now flows in the veins of degenerate sons. The mourn- 
ful ^Egean among green isles and on rocky shores is ever 
murmuring a lament for the departed glory of old Hellas* 
but still the light of her poetry is as immortal as her 
starry skies and golden sunshine, and lingers around that 


classic land and makes it a sacred shrine to every lover 
of freedom, art and letters. 

I will devote but a few moments in considering the 
history of the once proud mistress of the world and her 
nobly gifted sons of song. She drank deeply of the blood 
of carnage, revelled long amidst the spoils of conquest, 
and for centuries the great throbbings of her passionate 
heart were felt throughout the grandest empire of the 
ancient world. Her Catos, Scipios and Caesars are gone. 
Her Emperors who wielded an iron sceptre over the 
world are dust and ashes. Not one stone of the capitol 
is left upon another. The Coliseum is still a grand and 
glorious ruin. Where once sounded the eloquence of the 
Forum and Senate Chamber is now heard the plaintive 
cry of the beggar; and the Campus Martius where once 
victorious legions trod in the martial pomp and pride of 
the triumph, is now covered with the homes of poverty 
and the dens of infamy and crime. But her poets still 
live and will li/e forever. In their day they shed an im- 
mortal glory upon their country which survived her costly 
palaces, stately temples and imperial power, and sent 
gleams of intellectual light over the whelming deluge 
of Vandal invasion, and materially assisted in kindling 
the splendid dawn of the renaisance day. During the 
night time of the Middle Ages the voice of song never 
became silent, but cheered the heart and elevated the 
mind of ignorant, superstitious and oppressed humanity in 
the nations of Western Europe. The poems of Caedmon, 
the Saxon, stand first on the rich pages of English litera- 
ture. The songs of the Troubadours gave a cultured 
language and refined manners to Provence and Languedoc, 
and poetic literature was the pride and glory of the 
Oriental civilization of Southern Spain. 

Dante may well be regarded as the greatest pioneer in 
the cause of freedom and intellectual progress, and we 
cannot read the history of the revival of learning in 


Europe without being impressed with the important influ- 
ence of his poetry, and of that of his brilliant successors, 
upon the progress of modern civilization. 

When we turn to the pages of English history to study 
the causes which produced the intellectual development 
and advancement of our own ancestors, we find that 
Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare and Milton led the van- 
guard of progress, and were amongst the greatest bene- 
factors of their race. The influence which they exerted 
will last as long as the English language is spoken, and 
will be as widespread as the rich beneficences of English 
institutions and literature. 

In this place I cannot dwell longer upon a theme so 
suggestive, so extensive, so diversified and so full of im- 
portant instruction; but I will now turn to Hebrew poetry 
and literature which will be the subject of my future 

This is the richest and most beautiful field of literature 
and philosophy ever presented to human contemplation. 
It is a field in which intellectual giants have wrought, 
whose lips were touched with hallowed fire and whose 
inspired genius uttered the most momentous truths, and 
waked the grandest and sweetest notes of immortal 
harps. Here our minds can be elevated and enriched with 
the profoundest wisdom, and our souls be enraptured with 
scenes of loftiest sublimity, and with prophetic visions il- 
lumined with supernatural splendors. Here we can some- 
times feel that we are beneath the shadow of the Al- 
mighty, and can almost hear the echo of the songs of the 
angels. Here in thought and fancy we can revisit the 
blissful Eden home where the fruitful trees of life by 
crystal rivers were growing, where the landscape was 
bright with golden light and emerald verdure, and the 
musical air was redolent with ambrosial odors from yel- 
low meads of asphodel and from amaranthine bowers. 
Hebrew literature must always be a subject of interest- 

x 3 

ing study and contemplation to the human mind, for it 
has exerted a wonderful and controlling influence upon 
the intellectual, moral and social development of man- 

Hebrew poetry is also the great fountain of living 
waters, whose perennial currents have irrigated the world 
of letters, and given life and beauty to so many of the 
bright and sweet flowers of genius that bloom in the rich 
and varied fields of human thought. 

The most acute, profound and enlightened minds, after 
long and laborious investigation, have not been able fully 
to comprehend the extent of the influence of the Bible 
upon the happiness and progress of mankind. It reaches 
over the whole course of human destiny. Unlike other 
histories the Bible presents no fabulous ages. With the 
Bible as a guide, we can trace the course of human pro- 
gress back through the darkness of oblivious centuries 
to the primal, sinless home in Eden, where God formed 
man in His own image and breathed into his nostrils the 
breath of life, and man became a living soul ; and we can 
go still further back to the time when in the beginning God 
created the heavens and the earth, and spoke those 
gloriously sublime words, " Let there be Light," heard 
only by the angels. 

I cannot pause to consider at any length the influence 
of the Bible upon the civilization of the various nations 
of antiquity. The Old Testament scattered rays of light 
that penetrated the surrounding darkness and illumined 
the minds of ancient sages, philosophers, law-givers and 
poets, and threw some gleams of brilliance upon the 
institutions which they formed, and upon the immortal 
literatures which they gave to mankind. Investigations 
upon this subject have been made by learned men of 
modern times, and the results of their labors are impres- 
sive and wonderful. Even the annals of profane history 
and literature teach us that the Bible is the source of most 


of those high and noble thoughts, truths and principles 
which have illumined and beautified the moral and intel- 
lectual life of mankind and regulated correct human 
action. It has not only given religion, beneficent civil 
institutions and rich literatures to the nations of Christen- 
dom,, but has contributed all that is elevating and valuable 
in the faith of Islam. It has- not only affected the political 
destinies of States, but has permeated the whole structure 
of civilized society and shed its hallowing light over the 
loves, hopes and joys of domestic life. 

I propose, in this place, very briefly to refer to the 
influence of the Bible upon the literature and aesthetic 
culture of modern times. The Bible was the principal 
cause of the revival of letters in Europe, and controlled 
the various agencies that contributed to the production 
of Christian civilization. 

The dawn of the renaisance day was not produced by 
the sudden exercise of omnific power, like that which sent 
the light in kindling splendors over the face of chaos, 
but still it was tne result of the same Omnipotent direc- 
tion. The dark ages were not only times of disintegration 
and decay, but they were also times of recreation and 
development, in which were commingled and combined 
various causes to produce grand results. The tides of 
Vandal barbarism that swept over the provinces of Western 
Europe produced great moral and intellectual darkness, 
but Grecian literature shone with a feeble light on the 
shores of the Bosphorus, and Oriental culture illumined 
the capitals of the Califs and the Moorish cities of 
Spain. These elements of civilization were largely intro- 
duced into Western Europe by the crusades, and produced 
a reviving and enlightening influence. As the human 
mind became more enlightened it was prompted to inves- 
tigation and enquiry, and began to collect and concentrate 
the scattered rays of moral and intellectual light that 
existed in the surrounding gloom. There never was a 


complete intellectual midnight in the nations of Christen- 
dom. Mankind became greatly corrupted by the de- 
moralizing influences of ignorance, superstition and 
hierarchal and feudal tyranny ; the public services of 
Christian worship degenerated to almost pagan idolatry, 
but still in many a secluded valley, obscure home and 
lonely cloister the Bible kept alive the light of Christian 
truth and faith in many a pious heart, and kindled hopes 
and aspirations for a higher and more glorious destiny 
for man. These obscure homes of Christianity were pure 
little fountains from which trickled many tiny intellectual 
and moral rills, that flowed onward, like the mystic river 
of Ezekiel's vision, and continued to widen and deepen 
their currents, receiving into their bosom and purifying 
the streams of classic ; civilization until the nations were 
refreshed into more vigorous life and rejoiced in their 
combined and vivifying beneficences. 

During the Middle Ages manuscript copies of the Bible 
were few and costly, and could be obtained only by the 
wealthy and great; and the policy of the Romish Church 
had made the Scriptures almost a sealed book to the 
multitude, but the poetry of old Israel dwelt in the hearts 
and memories of the people, and the paintings of Bible 
scenes, sketched by the rude limners of Christian art in 
the Catacombs and Churches of Mediaeval Europe kept 
alive the ardent faith and hopes of pure Christianity. 

While the winds, the earthquakes and the fires of God's 
retributive judgments swept over the face of Europe, the 
same "still small voice" that spoke to Elijah in the cave 
of Horeb, spoke again to many earnest and devout 
Christian men and sent them forth with all the zeal and 
energy of the old prophet to collect, cheer and comfort 
the scattered remnants of the spiritual Israel who would 
not bow the knee to Baal. During this dark period 
poetry and art were the principal conservators of Bible 
truth, which they taught to the multitude, and they were 


used by an All-Wise Providence as important agents in 
producing modern civilization. They were the herald 
angels of the dawn that awoke the minds and hearts of 
Europe with songs of joy and visions of beauty. They 
inspired Dante when he struck his solemn lyre and thrilled 
mankind with new pulses of life, and soon all the nations 
were filled with the sublime melodies of responsive harps. 
Then Giotto, with the touch of genius, gave new inspira- 
tion and beauty to Christian art which was soon illumined 
by the glorious light shed by Da Vinci, Raphael and 
Angelo. . 

Then music, with enchanting power, began to wake 
higher and sweeter strains — the prelude notes that after- 
wards swelled into the sublime oratorios of Handel, 
Mozart and Beethoven. Then the spirit of freedom, 
which had been entombed in the ruins of the past, began 
to stir the minds and hearts of men to break the chains 
of civil and religious bondage which had so long repressed 
free thought and intellectual energy. Soon the mighty 
influences of partially emancipated and enlightened 
thought exhibited their vivifying powers. The preaching 
of WicklifTe was heard on the banks of the Thames, like 
the voice of another forerunning prophet crying in the 
wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his 
paths straight." The tones of this grand message rang 
in echoing cadences among the hills of Bohemia as Huss 
and Jerome were marching to the stakes of martyrdom, 
and a century afterwards the evangel of Luther was heard 
in the Church of Wittenburg, sounding like the silver 
trumpet of the Jubilee, proclaiming universal freedom of 
thought, and then the grand march of the Reformation 
began which conducted mankind from the darkness of the 
past into the ever-brightening realms of the future. 

I will not so far forget the truths of history as to deny 
to classic learning its just claims in the intellectual regen- 
eration of mankind, but I insist that its influence was only 


of secondary importance when compared with the elevat- 
ing, ennobling and enlightening power of the Bible 
Classic learning cultivated and refined the taste and 
intellect; the Bible educated the mind and heart by 
bringing out the highest thoughts and purest emotions 
and sympathies of man's better nature, and elevated the 
soul in its aspirations for a higher and nobler life in this 
world and in eternity. 

Classic learning has contributed to only a few of the 
branches of knowledge, while the Bible has poured its 
treasures of virtue, truth, wisdom and holiness into the 
whole structure of society. Even in the department of 
the fine arts the Bible has done more than antique models 
in inspiring artistic genius with those ideal conceptions 
of the grand and beautiful which have touched the heart 
and won the admiration of mankind. Most of modern 
sculpture was formed after antique models, while nearly 
all of the grandest paintings of the Old Masters were Bible 
scenes. The productions of the chisel are cold, colorless 
and lifeless; they charm the eye and cultivate the taste, 
but speak not to the heart, while the warm, glowing and 
life-like Bible pictures, around which the imagination 
throws a halo of sacred associations, fill the heart 
with high and holy emotions, give the pulses a quicker 
throb, make the tear drops start, and thrill the soul with 
the eloquent ecstacies of prayer. 

I will not dwell longer, in this place, upon the influence 
of the Bible in producing and controlling the civilization 
of Christendom, but may refer to the subject again in 
subsequent lectures. 

The Bible has a wonderful inherent power of self- 
preservation and protection. It has encountered and 
triumphed over the learning, philosophy, genius and 
prejudices of the most enlightened nations of the ancient 
world ; passed unharmed through the intensely heated 
furnaces of persecution ; been severely tried by the strong 


opposition of principalities and powers ; the blasphemous 
criticisms of infidels ; the irrational cavils of learned and 
accomplished skeptics, and the incomplete discoveries 
and crude theories and conjectures of modern science. 
Like gold, it has been purified in the fire ; like the fabled 
Antaeus, it hasbeen strengthened by apparent overthrow. 
Now enlightened science is becoming its strongest ally, 
and the sharp attrition of infidel intellect has been like 
the wheel of the lapidary polishing the diamond and 
bringing out its purest and brightest lustre. 

All persons, who, in any age, have carefully studied the 
Bible, with an honest and earnest purpose of obtaining 
the truth, have found, like Jacob wrestling with the angel, 
that they have received rich intellectual treasures and 
consoling spiritual hopes and blessings from the Most 

In the course of lectures which I purpose to deliver to 
you I will speak of some of the literary excellencies 
and beauties of the Bible, and of the peculiar character 
and genius of the people to whom it was delivered by its 
divine Author, with the sincere hope that my imperfect 
efforts may induce you to enter with earnest hearts and 
minds upon these rich and beautiful fields of history, 
philosophy and poetry. 


Education, Character and Laws o* the Hebrews. 

In order to understand and properly appreciate the 
richness and beauty of the literature of the Hebrews the 
student should make himself familiar with their history 
and language; with the geography and scenery of their 
country; with their laws and civil and religious institu- 
tions; with their manners and customs, and other charac- 
teristics that distinguished their peculiar national life; so 
that in imagination he can transport himself back to the 
age in which they lived and catch some of the spirit that 
animated them while performing their part in the great 
drama of civilization. 

This information can, in some degree, be acquired and 
comprehended by a careful and devout study of the Bible, 
which is now the entire library of the history, literature 
and philosophy of that ancient and most wonderful nation 
of mankind. I feel sure that we lose much of the sublimity 
and literary beauty of the Old Testament by not being 
able to read it in the original tongue. But few of us can 
find time in the midst of our professional pursuits to 
acquire a critical knowledge of the peculiar structure of 
such a difficult, ancient and unspoken language, and we 
must content ourselves with the English translation, and 
with such imperfect information as to the spirit and genius 
of the original as may be derived from the treatises and 
commentaries of learned and accomplished Hebrew 

The English Bible, if thoroughly studied, will furnish 
us with treasures of lofty thought and poetic imagery 
which will enrich our minds with the highest wisdom, and 


fill our hearts with pure and elevated emotions, and give 
us a vivid conception of the glorious beauty of Hebrew 

The history of the Hebrews is rich in thrilling incidents, 
and can be distinctly traced back through the dim and 
shadowy regions of the past to the genesis of the nation, 
and then onward through an unbroken genealogy of their 
ancestors to the childhood of the human race. No nation 
can boast of such a proud heraldry as the Hebrews, and 
they exerted an animating and controlling influence up6n 
all the nations with whom they came in contact. This 
influence among the nations may well be compared with 
an ever-flowing stream, producing fertility and verdure in 
all lands touched by its refreshing waters. 

Although the sacred records of the Hebrews have 
much internal evidence of their truthfulness, still 
they are confirmed by impartial science which translates 
aright the language which God has written on the surface 
and the strata of the earth ; by the invaluable researches 
of comparative philology, which proves that the whole 
earth was of one race and one speech ; by the crumbling 
monuments of Egypt, and memorials dug from the graves 
of buried cities ; by the habits and customs of many 
neighboring nations which have remained unchanged for 
three decades of centuries ; and by the universal tradi- 
tions which have come down from pre-historic ages. 

The history and poetry of the Hebrews are so intimately 
commingled that their history glows with poetry and 
their poetry is full of history. Everywhere on the golden 
thread of narrative are strung the precious and priceless 
pearls and gems of poetic thought. 

The book of Genesis is the only authentic account 
which we have of the primeval history of mankind for 
twenty-five hundred years. The most recent writer in 
the Old Testament was contemporary with Herodotus, the 
father of profane history. More than a thousand years 


intervened between Moses and Malachi, and although the 
sacred books of the Hebrews contain such a multiplicity 
of topics and variety of contents, and were the productions 
of various minds ; composed in different ages and under 
different circumstances, they exhibit a wonderful continuity 
of spirit, thought, style and purpose, and are evidently 
but parts of one book, emanating from one divine source. 
The Bible is an intellectual and moral phenomenon with- 
out a parallel in the world of letters. It stands in the 
fields of literature as a sublime original. It may be com- 
pared to the sun, which is ever shedding its inherent and 
unwasting warmth and brightness that fills the earth with 
beneficence and beauty, and kindles the twinkling radiance 
of planets and stars in the vast and deep bosom of im- 

From the earliest period of their national existence the 
Hebrews were far in advance of surrounding nations in 
intellectual and moral culture. 

Education occupied a prominent place in their civil and 
religious institutions. The fathers of families were strictly 
enjoined to instruct their children in the national 
laws, history and sacred literature. The system of educa- 
tion established by Moses and required by law to be 
observed, was general in its application, and tended to 
develop all the intellectual faculties and moral feelings of 
the nation. No child of genius was prevented by penury 
and neglect from drinking at the pure fountains of truth 
and learning. The gates of knowledge were ever open 
and accessible to all, and duty required everyone to enter 
and possess the rich fruits of accumulated wisdom, and 
contribute to the constantly increasing store. Every one 
from chilhood was taught the learning of the nation and 
the highest and noblest duties and responsibilities of life. 
Thus all the intellectual and moral faculties and energies 
of the nation were fully developed; and the day of 
Hebrew civilization continued to brighten until it reached 


its noontide splendor in the age of Solomon ; when its 
light and glory was shed upon surrounding nations, and 
was transmitted to succeeding ages. 

Under the laws and institutions of Moses the priests 
and Levites had no inheritance, except the cities that were 
appropriated to them for residences, and they were sup- 
ported by tithes annually collected from the tribes. By 
divine direction they were set apart for religious services, 
and as instructors of the people. They formed a sacerdotal 
order, but they had no means of acquiring large estates 
which would give them undue influence, and they could 
not obtain political power by operating upon the super- 
stitious fears of the people. They could make no united 
and concentrated effort to unduly control the political 
institutions of the State, as under the wise laws of Moses 
their prophetic destiny was accomplished, they were 
" divided in Jacob and scattered in Israel." They were 
made special guardians of the laws, and as their mainten- 
ance depended upon the existence and observance of the 
laws, self interest prompted them to oppose innovations 
and revolutions in the State. Thus they constituted a 
conservative and intelligent political element, ever active 
in preserving the peace and good order of society, and 
always contributing to the mental, moral and religious 
culture of the people. They occupied this important 
position during most of the period of the commonwealth, 
but in the days of Samuel many associations for a higher 
public education were formed, called Schools of the 

These schools were attended by the young men of 
Israel, where they were taught the laws and literature of 
their country, and were instructed in sacred music. The 
teachers of these high schools occupied prominent positions 
in all legislative assemblies, and they gave public instruc- 
tions on the Sabbath and at the great national festivals. 
From these schools, in a subsequent age, God called most 


of those inspired messengers who constituted "the goodly 
fellowship of the prophets," and who left such a glorious 
literature for the Hebrew's and for all mankind. 

The moral, social and political character of the Hebrews 
has been the subject of much investigation and discussion, 
and I think that they have not always been treated with 
the fairness and liberality which have been accorded to 
other nations. The only history of the ancient Hebrews 
is contained in the Old Testament. This history is sternly 
truthful, and was written under the influence of divine in- 
spiration for the purpose of guidance and instruction to 
the nation in its future progress, and also for the benefit 
of all succeeding ages. No national pride and love of 
country influenced the prejudices and warped the judg- 
ments of the sacred historians and induced them to 
unduly panegyrize their countrymen and fill their annals 
with the highly wrought creations of fiction and fable. 
Their narratives are facts and not fancies, and they are 
filled with important truths and not moral and social 
theories. They were the stern censors of national vices 
and not the apologists of error and crime. They wrote 
not for self-fame, or to stimulate national vanity and 
ambition, and thus win popular applause. They wished 
to reform and regenerate their people by showing to them 
the heinousness and folly of sin and disobedience to 
Jehovah, and point out the true paths of individual and 
national prosperity and glory. 

In judging the character of the Hebrews by their 
history, we subject them to a sterner ordeal than is applied 
to any other nation. The historians and poets of Greece 
and Rome employed all the powers of their inventive 
faculties to win fame for themselves and to advance the 
glory of their nation; and their productions were filled 
with highly wrought eulogy and fascinating fables. Most 
of the events and incidents mentioned in the Iliad and 
JEneid are ingenious fictions, and the imagination of the 

2 4 

poets made heroes and demigods out of rapacious and 
cruel chieftains. Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon, 
Livy, Sallust and Tacitus did more for the renown of 
Greece and Rome by the partiality and brilliancy of their 
fancy than was achieved by the wisdom of philosophers 
and statesmen, and the real exploits of generals and 

In modern times we find the fame of nations and the 
character of races, in a great degree, dependent upon the 
partiality, patriotism and creative genius of historians and 

In instituting a comparison between the Hebrews and 
other nations we should not forget this important fact, 
that the character of one is sternly and truthfully de- 
lineated by inspired penmen, while the character of other 
peoples are idealized by the partial pencils of human 

We also do great injustice to the Hebrews by judging 
them according to the standard of our own times. They 
lived in an age of almost universal moral barbarism. 
They were not surrounded by nations of highly cultivated 
tastes, refined sensibilities and elevated sentiments, and 
could not, by social and commercial intercourse, receive 
the accumulated blessings of an advanced and rapidly 
expanding civilization. 

To them the oracles of divine truth were obscurely 
communicated by types and ceremonies of worship, and 
the symbolic teachings of priests and prophets. Their 
minds and hearts were not illumined, as ours have been, by 
the glorious light of the Gospel, and by the numerous 
manifestations of a Divine Providence for eighteen hundred 
years. We certainly would be unjust judges if we pro- 
nounce judgment of condemnation against the Hebrews 
because they do not come up to the present standard of 
Christian enlightenment and virtue. 

In forming our opinion of the character of the ancient 


Hebrews our judgments are too much warped and preju- 
diced by supposing them to have been like the bigoted, 
fanatical and cruel Jews who rejected, persecuted and 
crucified our Saviour. We seem to forget the moral 
degeneracy of the race produced by centuries of dissension 
and discord, calamity and servitude; by the loss of the 
sacred symbols of the first Temple; their noble and in- 
spiring language; the voice of prophecy and the elevated 
spirituality of their religious faith, and also by the cor- 
rupting influence of pagan civilization with which they 
were brought into more immediate contact by the exten- 
sion of Persian, Grecian and Roman conquest. 

The Greeks of the time when St. Paul visited Athens 
were not like the Greeks who fought at Marathon and 
Salamis. The Romans who yielded a servile submission 
to Alaric were wholly unlike the citizens of republican 
Rome who, with heroic fortitude and dauntless valor, sur- 
rounded theCapitol when they heard the tremendous tidings 
of Cannae. Why should we judge the Hebrews by a differ- 
ent standard ? Why should we reverse the orderof divine 
judgment and visit the sins of the children upon the fathers? 

If we will divest ourselves of the prejudices which have 
been engendered in the Christian world by the conduct of 
the Jews towards our Saviour, and calmly judge the ancient 
Hebrews by the age in which they lived, the circumstances 
by which they were surrounded, and the influences which 
they have exerted upon all subsequent times, we must 
come to the conclusion that the Chosen People of Jehovah 
were not only a great but a wonderful people. 

I will now briefly refer to the influence of the civil laws 
of Moses in forming the character of the ancient Hebrews, 
and in promoting the peace and prosperity of the nation 
by cementing the bonds of social and political union, and 
thus insuring a constantly progressive civilization. The 
subject is worthy of a more extended notice than the 
limits of this lecture will allow. 


When we consider the antiquity of those laws, the moral 
darkness of the age in which they were promulgated, the 
consummate ability and extensive knowledge which they 
display, and the vivifying influences which they have so 
long exerted upon the destinies of mankind, we must feel 
that they were the productions of supernatural genius and 
wisdom and are worthy of our constant study and most 
devout veneration. 

The Hebrews were a nation pre-eminently governed by 
law. The books of the law not only regulated the political* 
social and domestic relations of the people, but were the 
text books of their education and culture, and penetrated 
and permeated their entire literature. The principles of 
those laws constituted an integral and important part in 
all historical, prophetical and poetical writings, and influ- 
enced the emotional and thought-life of the people. 

It is not my purpose critically to analyze those laws 
and point out their various excellencies. This subject has 
been fully considered and elaborated with much ability by 
Prof. Wines in his commentaries on the Laws of the 
Ancient Hebrews. I will quote with approbation the 
concluding paragraph of the chapter on Fundamental 

" Such then, as I conceive, were the great ideas and 
fundamental principles which lay at the basis of the 
Hebrew State. The unity of God, the unity of the nation, 
civil liberty, political equality, an elective magistracy, the 
sovereignty of the people, the responsibility of public officers 
to their constituents, a prompt, cheap and impartial 
administration of justice, peace and fellowship with other 
nations, agriculture, universal industry, the inviolability 
of private property, the sacredness of the family relations, 
the sanctity of human life, universal education, social 
union, a well adjusted balance of powers, and an enlight- 
ened, dignified, venerable public opinion were the vital, 
elements of the constitution of Moses. What better basis 


of civil polity, what nobler maxims of political wisdom 
does the nineteenth century offer to our contemplation, 
despite its boast of social progress and reform. The 
institutions founded on these maxims tower up amid the 
barbaric darkness and despotism of antiquity, the great 
beacon light of the world; diffusing the radiance of a 
political philosophy, full of truth and wisdom, over all the 
ages which have succeeded that, in which they were first 
promulgated to mankind." 

We refer to this subject in this place only for the purpose 
of drawing the legitimate inference, that there must have 
existed a condition of high moral, social and intellectual 
advancement among the Hebrews after they had reached 
the Promised Land and become a well organized nation 
under the laws and institutions of Moses. 

Surely there can be no better evidence of the character 
and condition of a people than the system of laws which 
they reverence and cheerfully obey; for a system of laws 
is always regarded as the concentrated wisdom and expe- 
rience of a nation — an index of public virtue and intelli- 
gence and a standard of civilization. 

With such civil and political laws and institutions we 
cannot be surprised that the Hebrews have bestowed such 
rich intellectual and moral treasures upon mankind. In 
this respect they have partially fulfilled the promise which 
God made to Abraham as the reward of his sublime faith, 
"In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." 

Although the nations of modern times have received 
such manifold blessings from the Ancient Hebrews, they 
do not fully recognize the fact and gratefully acknowledge 
the obligation they owe to that God-chosen people. The 
rulers, statesmen, jurists and scholars who now control 
the destinies of nations and advance the progress of 
civilization, are disposed to regard the classic nations of 
antiquity as the primal sources of wisdom, knowledge and 
refined culture, when in truth those nations only dimly 


reflected the intellectual light which emanated from the 
greater orb of truth and wisdom that shone over the land 
of Palestine. 

A candid, intelligent and industrious enquirer after 
truth, when he fully exafrnines the history, laws, institu- 
tions, moral teachings, and the learning and literature 
of the ancient Hebfews, and then traces the benign 
influences which they exerted upon other ancient nations 
and then upon the Gospel dispensation and upon Christian 
civilization, will greatly admire and venerate that people 
whom God chose as the depositaries of His sacred oracles 
and as the pioneers of human progress. 

The Hebrews were indeed pioneers in the fields of 
moral and intellectual progress. They possessed a liter- 
ature abounding in the enlightened principles of jurispru- 
dence and social advancement, enriched with instructive 
historic truths and adorned with the highest strains of 
poetry before the keel of Cecrops broke the ALgean 
wave or Cadmus taught his alphabetic mystery to the 
rude warriors of Thebes. 

For the purpose of preparing the Chosen People for 
their great and distinctive destiny, God established 
among them peculiar laws and institutions which kept 
them from mingling with and being contaminated by the 
demoralizing influences of surrounding nations. 

Thus was generated a national pride and caste which 
prevented them from being imitators and copyists, to 
much extent, of the manners, customs and thoughts of 
other peoples. After their settlement in Palestine their 
literature became as distinctive and peculiar as their civil 
and religious institutions, and for several centuries re- 
mained comparatively free from the admixture of foreign 
elements, and was enlarged and enriched by the produc- 
tions of native genius. In their national seclusion they 
studied carefully the rich volume of nature presented in 
their fertile and beautiful land, and from thence they drew 

2 9 

many of their sublime thoughts and appropriate meta- 
phors. With poetic ardor they loved the sweet and quiet 
vales with murmering streams and gushing springs. To 
them the odorous breezes were musical as they whispered 
through olive groves and clustering vineyards, or gently 
waved the plumed palms; and their souls were filled with 
emotions of grandeur and sublimity when the fierce storm- 
king swept the cedar harps of the mountains. Their 
habits and occupations inclined them to poetic conceptions. 
Most of them were, in the early periods of their history, 
husbandmen, vinedressers and shepherds, dwelling in 
pastoral simplicity in the humble homes for which they 
had a title from Jehovah. They were not then restless 
and greedy for gain, but in calm, rural repose, they trusted 
to the watchful guidance and care of their covenant-keep- 
ing God. In this condition of contentment and serenity 
their minds and hearts were prepared to receive vivid im- 
pressions of the beautiful. Day by day they witnessed 
the soft radiance of the dawn and breathed the fragrance 
of the morning, and when their pleasant labors were ended 
they gazed with rapture upon the golden glories of the 
evening skies. When the early and latter rains came they 
rejoiced at the prospects of plenty ; .and at the time of 
the harvest and the vintage they went forth with glad- 
some songs to reap the golden sheaves and gather the 
purple clusters, rich and heavy, for the foaming wine-press. 
W 7 hen they drove their bleating flocks to where the pastures 
were green and the cool waters were flowing, or wandered 
with their lowing herds upon the breezy hills, their eyes 
were filled with scenes of quiet beauty, and their minds 
with glorious thoughts, and these scenes and thoughts 
were softened and sanctified when the solemn stillness of 
the night was resting on the slumbering earth. 

When the silvery moonbeams sottly glisten 
And all is hushed save the voice of the soul, 
And the silent stars gently wink and listen 
While heaven's eternal melodies roll. 


We will not dwell in this place upon the scenery and 
natural beauties of the land of Palestine, but reserve the 
subject for consideration in a subsequent lecture. 

In our next lecture we will consider the noble language 
in which Hebrew thought was enshrined and transmitted 
as a precious and invaluable legacy to all succeeding ages. 


The Hebrew as a Poetical Language. 

The poetry of the Hebrews was written in one of the 
oldest of human languages that has been preserved in a 
written literature. Some learned philologists were of the 
opinion that the Hebrew was the original language of 
man, and was directly communicated to Adam in Para- 
dise, and at the confusion of tongues was preserved by 
Divine Providence in the family of Heber, who did not 
engage in the impious work of the tower-builders of 
Babel. We have the highest authority for believing that 
there was once an age in which " the whole earth was of 
one language and of one speech." We also know that God 
confounded this common language of mankind, and did 
so for the purpose of scattering them as different peoples 
over the earth. We have no facts to induce the belief 
that the original language existed in its primal structure 
among any of the newly formed races, and there are many 
plausible conjectures which tend to show the truth of a 
contrary hypothesis. A common language was a strong 
bond of union that made the human race one people, and 
we are inclined to think that when the race was divided 
into different peoples by the confusion of their speech 
the original language ceased to have an entire and dis- 
tinctive existence. 

The verbal analogies and affinities which existed in all 
the primitive languages clearly show that they sprung 
from the same parent stock, which seems to have perished 
in furnishing vital sap to its various offshoots. 

Much careful investigation has been made, and many 
plausible theories have been suggested upon this subject, 


but no conclusion has been reached entirely satisfactory 
to all learned philologists. 

I am of the opinion, from the very limited investigation 
which I have been able to make, that the Hebrew was 
a dialect of a language spoken by various ancient Shemitic 
nations of Western Asia, and was formed into a distinctive 
language, like other cultivated languages have been formed 
from grafts without and germs within, and grew with the 
increasing wants and intelligence of the people. 

I am also of the opinion that the antediluvians reached 
an advanced stage of civilization, which was transmitted 
by Noah and his family to the post-diluvian races. From 
this source the Assyrians and Egyptians derived much of 
that knowledge and culture which enabled them to exhibit 
such advancement in the arts and sciences at the earliest 
historic eras. The ancestors of Abraham, although 
idolaters, were not barbarians, and they possessed an 
organized language, and perhaps a written literature. This 
language was carried by Abraham into Canaan, and soon 
after that period of migration was enlarged and elevated 
in giving expression to the sublime monotheistic truths 
and glorious promises which Jehovah communicated to 
his chosen servant. It also received accessions from 
the cognate speech of the Canaanitish tribes among 
whom the Patriarchs dwelt so long in peaceful and familiar 
intercourse. The descendants of Jacob dwelt for several 
centuries among the Egyptians, who were the most highly 
civilized people of that early age, and their superior learn- 
ing and culture must have had some influence upon the 
language of the subject race. 

The tribes of Isreal cannot properly be considered as a 
nation until the time of the Exodus, when Moses, by a 
peculiar code of laws and novel institutions, gave them an 
independent and distinctive national existence. He was 
possessed of splendid genius and a strong, practical intel- 
lect, and was familiar with all the learning and literary 


culture of his times; and was, moreover, divinely com- 
missioned and inspired for his great work of liberating 
his oppressed people, and preparing them to be a peculiar 
people unto the Lord. For the purpose of effecting this 
design we may well suppose that he made changes and 
modifications in the then existing language of his people, 
so as to suit the conditions of their new and peculiar 
national life. 

I believe that it is now generally agreed among scholars 
that the art of alphabetic writing existed long anterior 
to the age of Moses, and that many ancient nations of 
Asia possessed a written literature. The ancestors of 
Abraham lived in a land which was the starting point 
of civilization, and we know that the Hebrew Patriarchs, 
by their intelligence and force of character, occupied a 
distinguished position among their Canaanitish and 
Phoenician neighbors. We may well suppose that the 
chosen people, with their many advantages, were not 
destitute of the learning and arts which existed in their 
age in the country in which they sojourned, and in the 
immediate vicinity. For more than a century after their 
migration into Egypt they were in much favor with the 
kings and nobility of that highly civilized people. They 
must have had at least some memorials consisting of 
well defined traditions of ancestral history, earnest hymns 
cf thanksgiving and praise; and many important events 
must have been commemorated by ballads and songs, the 
voices of their intelligent thought-life and elevated 
affections and emotions. It requires no unreasonable 
stretch of fancy to suppose that such a people had made 
as great advancement as other nations with whom they 
were in constant association. Some scholars think that 
the book of Genesis contains portions of various smaller 
books which were the sacred literature of the Patriarchal 
Church, and were in the possession of the Hebrews while 
in Egypt, and were combined and enlarged by Moses 


under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Upon this subject: 
there is much contrariety of opinion among- Biblical; 
scholars, and I have not the space in a lecture, or the 
learning properly to discuss the matter. 

We believe that the Pentateuch in its present literary 
form is the work of Moses. Wethink we are sustained 
in this opinion by the internal evidence which the work 
affords, and by the uniform history and traditions of the 
Hebrew nation. We find the Pentateuch in a language 
of mature development in the earliest periods of Hebrew* 
national history, and it was always regarded with sacred 
veneration by the nation, and as the standard of their 
literary culture. 

Some philologists suppose that Moses was the author 
of the written language of the Hebrews and formed it as 
a sacred language under the same divine influence which 
inspired him with supernatural wisdom in constructing 
his civil and religious institutions. In studying God's* 
wondrous plan in developing human civilization, there is 
no necessity for supposing the exertion of His miraculous 
power, where results can be reasonably accounted for byi 
natural causes and processes controlled by His usual- 
providences. Be this as it may, the fact that such a 
sublime literature and language existed among the 
Hebrews at such an early period of their national 
existence furnishes strong evidence that they were am 
intellectual people of considerable culture. They had 
been much demoralized by the oppressions of a hard 
bondage and by the corrupting influences of Egyptian 
society, and this literature was intended to produce a; 
moral regeneration, and before the end of the long desert 
pilgrimage this object was, in some degree, accomplished. 
They frequently heard the reading of their history and ; 
laws; they witnessed the grand and awful manifestations 
at Sinai; the imposing services of the Tabernacle; the 
numerous beneficences of Jehovah, and His just and severe 


chastisements. This discipline of the desert, and the 
wise instructions, the patient forbearance and paternal 
care of Moses greatly elevated the character of the 
Hebrews and prepared them for their noble destiny in the 
Promised Land. 

As we cannot read the Hebrew language, in speaking 
of its force, richness and beauty we can only express 
some of the opinions of scholars who have written upon 
the subject. This language is peculiar for the number of 
verbs and their derivatives that abound in its structure. 
In every language the verb is the animating power, the 
vital principle, that gives the force, energy and beauty of 
human thought and emotion. Herder says, "in the 
Hebrew the verb is almost the whole of the language. It 
is an abyss of verbs, a sea of billows, where motion, action 
rolls on without end." He makes the language speak 
and say, 4 T live, move and act. Tne senses and the 
passions, not abstract reasoners and philosophers, were 
my creators. Thus I am formed for poetry, nay, my 
whole essence is poetry." That eloquent poet and learned 
and accomplished Hebraist also remarks that the lan- 
guage is barren of mere abstract terms, but rich in words 
representing sentiment, passion, emotion and the various 
objects of nature. "It is the very breath of the soul. It 
does not claim the beauty of sound like the Greek, but 
it breathes and lives. Such it is to us who are but partially 
acquainted with its pronunciation, and for whom its deep- 
er gutturals remain unuttered and unutterable. In those 
old times when the soul was unshackled, what fullness of 
emotion, what store of words that breathe must have 
inspired it. It was, to use an expression of its own," 
" The spirit of God that spake in it. The breath of 
the Almighty that gave it life." Such was the language 
in which the thoughts, feelings and emotions of the ancient 
Hebrews were enshrined and transmitted to succeeding 
ages. We have but little information as to the growth of 


the Hebrew language during the commonwealth which 
existed for four hundred years. The books of Joshua, 
Judges and Ruth contain a short and fragmentary history 
of those times, but they were probably written in a subse- 
quent age. We know, however, from the writings which 
certainly existed before and after the commonwealth that 
no marked dialectical or idiomatic changes were made in 
the vocabulary or structure of the cultured and literary 

The Pentateuch possessed such inherent literary excel- 
lence, was so full of the highest wisdom, was so frequently 
read and studied and was so devoutly venerated by the 
people, that in the midst of so many national vicisitudes 
it preserved the literary language from any change but 
that of very gradual development. Although we have 
so few literary remains of those times we are well satisfied 
that the people did not live in a condition of intellectual 
sloth and barrenness. They often violated their covenant 
with Jehovah and were visited with the severe chastise- 
ments of His corrective providence, but they enjoyed 
long intervals of prosperity, peace and divine favor, and 
observed the laws and institutions established by Moses 
for the promotion of intellectual and moral culture. 
Toward the close of the commonwealth the Hebrews had 
reached such a condition of intelligence as to require a 
more enlightened system of mental and religious instruc- 
tion than that afforded by the Priests and Levites, and to 
meet this requirement Samuel organized the Schools of 
the Prophets. Up to that time the Pentateuch was the 
library of their legal and religious literature and the ^hief 
repository of the vocabulary of their sacred and cultivated 
language, but the active and inventive intellect, and the 
highly imaginative and emotional nature of the people 
must have produced a rich and varied literature, the out- 
growth of their social and domestic condition, and ex- 
pressed in the popular dialect of common life. That was 


the poetical and heroic age, and from the few glimpses 
which we have of its history we feel sure that it was full 
of scenes and events well calculated to arouse the emotions 
and inspire the genius of an earnest and imaginative race, 
and like other primitive peoples, they must have expressed 
their vivid conceptions and fervid emotions in the language 
of poetry and song. The Hebrews of subsequent times 
regarded the period of the commonwealth as a glorious 
era in their history, and with patriotic affection and pride 
they cherished the ballads, songs and traditions of their 
heroic ancestry. 

The Hebrew language reached its highest condition of 
culture in the age of David and Solomon, and from the 
time of Hezekiah it commenced to decline by the com- 
mixture of foreign elements, and almost ceased to be a 
spoken language during the Babylonish captivity. The 
Hebrews were in captivity only seventy years, and yet 
when a small portion of two of the tribes, called from 
about that time Jews, returned from exile, there were only 
a few of the most learned scribes who could write, trans- 
late or speak the noble language of their forefathers. 

The Jews never spoke or became familiar with the old 
language, and the Scriptures used in the synagogue 
worship were translated by interpreters into the Aramaic 
tongue until theSeptuagint version furnished the Scriptures 
in arichand beautiful language, understood byall intelligent 
Jews who dwelt in the limits of the Alexandrian Empire. 
Among the educated Jews who dwelt in Palestine and 
Babylon the old Hebrew still remained as the language 
of literature and as it was used by the Rabbins and 
learned Doctors of the Law. The Hebrew never again be- 
came a vernacular speech. Portions of the Latin and Greek 
still exist as living elements in some of the languages of 
Modern Europe, but the old Hebrew as a vital speech no 
longer breathes from living lips, and its thoughts are alone 
embalmed in the hearts and memories of mankind. 


Although we cannot fully comprehend the accents 
and cadences of dead languages, they are well adapted 
for the preservation of the thoughts and characteristics 
of nations. They are stereotyped in form and are not 
subject to the changes and modifications of a living speech. 
They retain much of the force and brilliancy of national 
thought, but as they lose the rhythm, harmony and 
passionate energy of pronunciation they do not fully repre- 
sent the fervid emotions and affections that animated the 
hearts of the people. 

Although so many historic truths and literary treasures 
are embalmed in a dead language, still it is like a gallery of 
painting and statuary. In the productions of the painter 
we see and admire skillful imitation and delicacy of finish, 
but we know that the copied scenes and objects do not 
equal the living and glowing beauties of nature which 
inspired the genius of the artist. 

The most perfect statue, wrought with exquisite and 
marvelous skill, and combining the beauties and excel- 
lences selected from various living forms by the quick 
discerning eye and cultivated taste of the artist, are inad- 
equate representations of the animated forms of symmetry 
and grace, which inspire the heart with purer and nobler 
emotions of the beautiful than the highest ideals of genius. 

Apelles, with matchless skill, painted Campaspe and 
won the favor and gold of Alexander, but he could not 
copy that inimitable beauty which inspired his heart with 
a love dearer to him than wealth and immortal fame. 

All the voices of the past are voices from the grave. 
Nations, although dead, still speak through their preserved 
literatures and teach us much valuable knowledge, but 
we cannot hear the glowing and thrilling eloquence and 
tender pathos of the living speech that once so intensely 
expressed their varied thoughts and emotions. 

In the natural world we can find many illustrations of 
the familiar truth which we have presented, but we will 


make only one reference. A frozen stream may be as 
clear as crystal and sparkle and gleam in the sunlight, 
but it has none of the motion and melody of the living 
waters as they murmur among the rocks or ripple on 
the sandy shore. In one condition the stream is invested 
and surrounded by the brilliant but cold beauties of 
nature, while in the other it flows onward in musical tones 
amid the bloom, verdure and freshness of Spring and the 
golden richness of the Summer. 

The old Hebrew language has uttered no living voice 
for more than twenty centuries, and the most learned 
Hebraist of our times, after the deep silence of so many 
ages, cannot revive the cadences of its pronunciation, and 
thus form an adequate conception of the liquid flow and 
melody of those grand anthems, that, on the waves of 
music and song, swelled through the courts and porches 
of Solomon's "magnifical temple;" or feel the full force 
of those sublime and eloquent rhapsodies which Isaiah, 
with fervid heart and burning lip, once uttered to his 
rebellious and disobedient countrymen. 

We judge of the variety, extent and wealth of a nation's 
thought from the copiousness of language preserved in 
its literature. Language is a symbol of ideas, and is 
gradually formed and extended by the operation of the 
national mind. It is the embodiment of national thought, 
and enables us to feel, in some degree, the pulse throbs 
of the national heart. In the refined and cultivated 
language of a people we find their most elevated and 
matured thoughts, but their elegant literature does not 
contain much of the simple dialects which vividly express- 
ed the earnest feelings and sentiments of the common 
people in private life, and which often glowed with ex- 
quisite gems of poetry. 

Who can ever forget or undervalue the treasures which 
Burns has contributed to our literature by his matchless 
songs and poems written in the Doric dialect of humble 


life, full of vivid pictures, and expressing, in such simple 
and tender pathos, the feelings and sentiments of his 
peasant countrymen. In his simple home songs beautiful 
thoughts and fancies sparkle and gleam around his rhyth- 
mic words like sunshine and dew drops upon the fresh 
flowers of the morning. 

The books of the Old Testament contain the remains 
of Hebrew literature produced during the period when 
the language was spoken. These books were written 
under divine inspiration and were intended principally for 
the specific purpose of developing the riligious life of the 
Chosen People. They furnish many domestic and social 
scenes of exquisite beauty, but they, by no means, contain 
the entire literature of the home life of the Hebrews. 
Nearly all of this literature has been lost, and with it 
much of the variety and richness of the language, thought 
and emotions of the nation. 

From the various translations of the Old Testament 
the learned philologist is enabled to make a comparative 
estimate of the richness and variety of the vocabulary of 
the original tongue. This experiment has been made by 
accomplished scholars, and they have found that in words 
expressing passionate energy, affection and the fervent 
emotions of the soul, and in giving distinctive descriptions 
of the various objects of nature the Hebrew has a more 
copious and appropriate vocabulary than the Greek, the 
Latin or the English. Such classes of words in every 
language are principally used by poets, and from these 
comparative estimates we may readily conclude that the 
Hebrews were endowed with higher poetic capacities and 
sensibilities than those refined and richly gifted nations 
whose immortal works of genius constitute the great 
mass of classical literature. 

Every literary production is deprived of much of its 
original power and beauty by translation, although it may 
be translated into a language of more extensive verbal 


resources and higher culture. A little flower taken from 
an Alpine cliff and transplanted into a warm and fertile 
garden in the valley loses the delicate tints of coloring 
which adorned it while blooming amid eternal frosts on 
the verge of the avalanche. 

Every literary production was the outgrowth of popular 
taste and feeling, and exhibited its purest beauty and 
exerted its greatest influence among the people for whom 
it was originally intended. 

Translations of the rude ballads and war songs of the 
Scandinavian Scalds produce in us none of the enthusiasm 
and lofty courage with which they inspired the hearts of 
the old Vikings and their followers as they fought in 
bloody forays, or struggled with the cold storms and 
waves of the northern seas. 

Pope, one of the most gifted and accomplished of Eng- 
lish poets, spent many years in the laborious and careful 
translation of the Iliad. He gave a classic to literature 
which glitters with the wealth and rhythmic elegance of 
the English language, but it is wanting in that mystic 
power of genius with which the Blind Harper electrified 
the proud cities of Hellas and Ionia, and threw the halo 
of immortal fame around the valiant heroes who fought 
before the walls of Troy. 

An American audience of the highest classic culture 
would not listen with any degree of patience to the 
repetition in our language, by the most gifted and accom- 
plished histrionic artist, of those tragedies which once made 
the statesmen, warriors, philosophers, orators and poets of 
Athens weep for the misfortunes of the ill-fated GEdipus 
and the heroic Antigone, and listen with breathless awe to 
the story of the wronged, forsaken and revengeful Medea. 

Who can now feel the full force of that eloquence which 
once rang with sublime thoughts and rich cadences over 
the temple-crowned Acropolis, and which Phillip of 
Macedon dreaded more than all the armies of Greece ? 


Who can now comprehend the magic power of that 
magnificent oratory by which the timid Tully controlled 
the destinies of war-loving Rome ? 

No translator can do full justice to the literature of an 
ancient and dead language, as he is incapable of catching 
the spirit and inherent beauties of the original. There 
are idiomatic peculiarities about the old Hebrew which 
present many difficulties to translators in obtaining the 
true spirit and rhythm of the original. It is very ancient, 
and there is no cognate contemporary literature with 
which it can be be compared, and which might aid in 
elucidating linguistic obscurities. The writers of the Old 
Testament were under the guidance of the Holy Spirit 
and translators cannot feel the divine afflatus which inspired 
the hearts and genius of the old Hebrew prophets and bards. 

The Hebrew letters in present use date no further back 
than to the time of the captivity, and the vowel points 
and accents used in the connection of syllables, words 
and sentences, serve but to show how the Jewish scholars 
of subsequent times expressed the Hebrew when these 
changes were introduced, and how they themselves under- 
stood the text. The ancient Hebrew, in which the Old 
Testament was originally written, was a pure consonantal 
text, and the consonants were so arranged as to indicate 
the appropriate vowel sounds to a reader familiar with the 
living language. The vowels were unseen, and circulated 
as the blood of the language. But after the old Hebrew 
lost the force and freedom of a living tongue these phonetic 
and fluent elements of speech could not be fully understood 
and properly applied so as to bring out its entire richness 
and melody. The sublimity of thought, the historical 
value and the credibility of the Old Testament still 
remained — it lost only its original literary form to some 
extent. The notation of vowels and accents, made after 
the language ceased to be spoken, supplied, in some 
degree, its flexibility and elasticity, and made it utter 


many of its ancient voices of emotion and melody which 
thrill the souls ot mankind. 

The Old Testament has been remarkably well trans- 
lated into the English language. More than half of the 
words of our English version are Anglo-Saxon, a language 
eminent for its simplicity, terseness and power of expres- 
sion — some of the characteristics of the old Hebrew. 
The English Bible is the grandest and most beautiful book 
in our literature. It owes some of its literary excellence 
and form to the rich, forcible and rhythmic flow of the 
English tongue, but the grand thoughts and graphic 
pictures that illumine its pages are the products of the 
Hebrew mind, which have lost much of their force and 
exquisite literary excellence and beauty in passing into 
translation. The sunlight in passing through the camera 
depicts with accuracy and beauty the human face and 
the grand objects of nature, but the sketching sunbeams 
do not fasten the glow that beams around the objects 
which are copied. Thus our English Bible furnishes but 
a photographic picture of Hebrew life, and does not give 
the full literary force and beauty of the thoughts and 
eloquent utterances of the old Hebrew bards which 
awakened such thrilling emotions in the hearts of old 

All philologist agree that the etymology and structure 
of a language, its peculiar idioms and dialects, and the 
changes which it undergoes in the process of development, 
furnish important information as to the characteristics of 
a people. Language is the voice of the thought and 
emotional life of a nation, and is necessarily a valuable 
portion of its history. The old Hebrew, although imper- 
fectly understood, furnishes internal evidence that it was 
formed and spoken by a noble people of high mental and 
moral culture who lived in primeval times, in pastoral 
simplicity and in a beautiful land and clime. It is em- 
phatically a religious and emotional language, formed, 


from infancy to mature development, as it were, in the 
presence of Jehovah and by His immediate tuition, and 
influenced by grand events and wondrous providences. 

The Aramaic, spoken by the Jews after their return 
from the exile in Babylon, plainly shows the intellectual 
and moral degeneracy produced by captivity, calamity 
and servitude. They had forgotten the noble language 
of their fathers and spoke in the rugged tongue of their 
heathen conquerors, and yet this language of slavery was 
glorified by the utterance of divine truths. It was the 
original language of the Sermon on the Mount and the 
beautiful and inimitable parables of our Saviour. 

The Greek, so soft, so sweet, so expressive, so rich in 
classic elegance and so harmonious in cadences, enables 
us to form an incomplete but still vivid conception of the 
acute, subtle, enlightened and imaginative race who lived 
in the refined age when Pericles ruled, when Callistratus 
reared and Phidias adorned the Parthenon. 

The sonorous and stately rhythm of the Latin shows 
that it was the language of a brave, aggressive and im- 
perial people, and it sounds like the martial music that 
regulated the measured tread of those invincible legions 
who carried their victorious eagles into every land. 

The Italian is the voice of that civilization which reared 
the splendid basilicas and gorgeous palaces of Catholic 
Rome, woke into melody the strings of Dante's and 
Petrarch's lyre, and guided the pencil and chisel of 
Raphael and Angelo as they formed those ideal creations 
which have been the matchless models of art. 

In the Spanish we can distinctly trace the commingled 
elements of Roman civilization and Gothic vigor, tinged 
with the Oriental culture of the Caliphs. The peculiar 
features of the language, and the stern, bigoted and re- 
lentless character of the Spaniard, were both formed in that 
long, fierce and bloody conflict of eight hundred years be- 
tween the Moore and the Goth — theCrescent and the Cross. 


The French is as soft, as gay and as versatile as the 
brilliant women and accomplished courtiers who once 
bowed the knee to royalty in the gilded saloons of Ver- 
sailles; and it is filled with the accents of the rich and 
melodious speech of sunny Provence in which the Trouba- 
dours sang the songs of love, chivalry and old romance. 

The German is the remarkable language of a remarka- 
ble people. It has a rich and extensive vocabulary derived 
almost entirely from an original" stock, and has less com- 
mixture of foreign elements than any other language of 
Europe. It has a wonderful capability of developing itself 
from its own substance. It seems to grow and expand 
like a giant oak that has been strengthened by the sun- 
shine and storms of centuries, deriving its sap from its 
ancient roots, and ever extending its branches covered 
with fresh, rich and living verdure and beauty. The 
Germans have preserved more than any other nation of 
Modern Europe the distinguishing characteristics of their 
remote ancestors. Although their country has so long 
been the battlefield of contending nations, they are still 
the truest representatives of the Teuton race. Their 
national progress seems to have been the result of inherent 
resources called into active and energizing life by the 
Reformation, and their language was solidified and en- 
riched by Luther's version of the Bible. They have 
wrought out for themselves a grand and distinctive liter- 
ature and now occupy one of the highest intellectual 
thrones among mankind. 

In the English we find the language of a free, progres- 
sive, world-impressing and world-embracing people. It 
has drawn treasures from nearly every literature and 
continues to expand in richness and fullness as the en- 
lightened mind achieves new conquests in the various 
realms of human thought. In the vocabulary of this 
language we can distinctly trace its origin back to that 
remarkable people, who, from the disintegrating elements 

4 6 

of ancient civilization, created the nations and the civil 
institutions of Modern Europe; and we can also readily 
distinguish the proportions and relations of the various 
races that were combined in the formation of the English 
people. The principle elements of the English language 
are derived from the Anglo Saxon and the Latin, the 
noble languages in which are enshrined the principles of 
freedom, justice and enlightened jurisprudence, and the 
highest intellectual achievements of mankind. 

If we had not reached the reasonable limits of this 
lecture we would be pleased to consider more fully than 
we have heretofore done the wonderful and controlling 
influences which the Hebrew Scriptures through various 
versions have exerted upon the languages, literatures and 
civilizations of all subsequent ages. We feel that it 
would be improper for us, in a brief and cursory manner 
to speak upon such a rich, important and extensive 


God divided mankind into various races by the con- 
fusion of tongues at Babel, but His revealed word for 
centuries has been exerting a reverse influence in bringing 
different nations into closer connection and fellowship by 
establishing a common literature which is ever tending to 
a unification of all of the children of men. The invention 
of printing has, under divine providence, enabled the 
Christian Church to multiply copies of the Bible by mil- 
lions and in nearly all the languages of mankind. It now 
has the Pentecostal gift of the Holy Spirit and all the 
nations hear it speak to them in their own tongues the 
wonderful works of God. 

Withou entering into an extended argument to sustain 
our conclusion, we venture to express the belief that 
the English speaking peoples, with their enlightened laws 
and institutions of freedom; with their incomparable 
literature and with their rich, extensive, diversified and 
rapidly expanding language, all moulded and invigorated 


by the Bible, are destined in the providence of God to 
be the leading actors in evangelizing- and civilizing the 
world, and binding the various races of men in the bonds 
of Christian brotherhood. 


The Style of Hebrew Poetry. 

In judging of the beauties and excellencies of the style 
of Hebrew poetry we can gain but little assistance from 
the principles and rules of poetic art and criticism which 
have been established in other nations. It is so essen- 
tially different from all other poetry in its structure that 
we can hardly institute any comparison. 

The Greeks sought to regulate all of their fine arts by 
beauty and harmony of proportions and relations, and 
were as carefully artistic in their metrical arrangement of 
poetry as in the production of their elegant statuary and 
architecture. In their poetry we find the exquisite pro- 
ductions of linguistic and metrical art which have exerted 
a refining influence upon the poetry of subsequent ages. 

The use of rhyme in modern poetry has contributed to 
its harmony of diction, but fettered the bold, strong and 
sublime energies of creative genius. The origin of rhyme 
is involved in obscurity, but it certainly did not exist to 
much extent in the poetry of the Hebrews and of the 
classic productions of antiquity. Rhyme is a creation of 
modern art, while rhythm springs from the love which 
exists in the human soul for order, harmony and beauty, 
and spontaneously gushes out in music and song. Rhythm 
of language has existed in all ages, and among most of 
the civilized nations has been regulated by certain well 
defined technical rules which constitute the art of poetry. 

Hebrew poetry in the original language must have 
been full of rhythm, as this characteristic is not lost by 
translation into the rudest and most inharmonious speech. 
This rhythm existed both in words and thoughts, and is 


so inherent and vital that the more literal any translation 
of Hebrew poetry the greater are the beauties and melo- 
dies which it transfuses into the foreign tongue. This 
peculiarity does not exist to the same extent in any other 
literature. Literal translations of ancient classic poetry 
into our language are always prosaic, and the affluent 
versatility of genius is required to give them the rhythm 
and spirit of poetry. 

The rhythm and poetry of the Old Testament Scriptures 
are not confined to the strictly poetical books, but 
sentences and verses of the finest poetry are found inter- 
spersed in rich profusion in all their legal and historical 
books. These poetic sentences and verses gleam like 
jewels encased in gold, and the prevalence of such an ele- 
ment in their didactic writings furnishes high evidence of 
the imaginative temperament and genius of the Hebrew 

Although Hebrew poetry is so full of rhythm and 
melody there is much doubt as to whether it was originally 
regulated by any fixed and invariable rules of metrical 
structure. This subject has called forth much ingenius 
discussion and elaborate investigation, and still no definite 
conclusions have been made which are entirely satisfactory 
to Biblical critics and scholars. The pronunciation of the 
language and its laws of syllabic quantity and accentuation 
have long been lost, and the rules of its metrical arrange- 
ment can never be correctly ascertained, as mankind can 
never again hear its living tones. 

Some writers have contended that the existence of such 
rules of metrical arrangement can reasonably be inferred 
from well established facts in Hebrew history. Music 
and poetry are twin sisters of art and exert an influence 
upon each other. The sacred writings frequently men- 
tion various kinds of musical instruments, and music and 
poetry were the subjects of study in the Schools of the 
Prophets. The Hebrews celebrated their domestic and 


social festivals, their victories and parts of their religious 
services with songs, instrumental music and the sacred 
dance. From these well attested historical facts the 
argument has been made that a people so familiar with 
the melodies of sound and the graceful harmony of motion 
could not have failed to perceive and appreciate the 
pleasing rhythm and melody produced in language by 
the proper adjustment of words and sentences, and that 
this natural perception would necessarily have soon sug- 
gested and formed artificial rules of metrical structure. 

As we have no knowledge of the etymology and 
grammatical structure of the Hebrew language we are not 
qualified to express an opinion upon any internal evidence 
which it furnishes as to the artificial metrical arrangement 
of the Hebrew poetry. As translated in our English 
Bible we find that the Psalms need none of the rules of 
classic and modern versification to bring out their melody, 
beauty of imagery and sublimity of thought, and when 
chanted in the Church service they blend in sweet unison 
with the splendid harmonies of the organ. We know of no 
reason why Hebrew poetry should not have possessed the 
same natural capabilities in the original language when 
chanted in accompaniment to the instruments of music 
in the Temple service. 

When the Psalms were introduced into the liturgical 
services of the Temple they must have been so arranged 
and adapted to accompanying instruments of music as to be 
sung in unison by the Levitical choirs and the congrega- 
tion, but we are inclined to think that no fixed rules of 
art controlled the authors in their original composition. 

The Hebrew Bards were men of intense thoughts, 
emotions and purposes, and their minds and hearts were 
occupied in contemplating the grandest subjects. Their 
poems were not simply the products of the imagination, 
but were full of the solemn realities of eventful history 
and their own personal experiences and emotions; their 


joys, their sorrows, their faith, their love for God and their 
devout ascriptions of thanksgiving and praise. 

They were poets born, not made, and the breathings 
of the Holy Spirit inspired their minds and animated their 
hearts, and they uttered great truths, not only for their 
own times, but for all the coming ages; and their earnest 
thoughts and intense emotions were expressed in appro- 
priate words, which were naturally arranged into rhythmic 
cadences. They were under the guidance of that Omnis- 
cience and Omnipotence which has filled the natural 
world in infinite variety with a melody, beauty and 
sublimity far surpassing the productions of the most exalted 
human genius. . What were the hanging gardens of 
Babylon and the sumptuous palaces of Assyria, the 
massive pyramids and grand temples of Egypt when 
compared with the excellency of Carmel, the glory of 
Lebanon and the grandeur of Hermon crowned with eternal 
snow and yet robed in garments of verdure bright with 
flowers and sparkling with dews ? What are all the parks 
and gardens which human art has so elaborately arranged 
and beautified to gratify the pride and cultivated taste of 
the proud and great when compared with the majestic 
primeval forest intersected with noble rivers gleaming in 
sunshine or sparkling with the light of stars, and the wild 
gardens which God has planted on the fertile hillsides and 
in luxuriant valleys filled with exhuberant fruitfulness and 
picturesque loveliness. 

Nature needs none of the aids of human skill to regu- 
late her voices of melody. The birds know no rules of art 
as they sing their joyous lyrics. The winds and storms — 
those wild, mighty and mysterious singers — observe no 
certain metre when they hold their concerts among the 
woodlands and the hills. No mortal corypheus leads the 
choir of the jubilant rills, bounding cataracts and solemn 
flowing rivers as they rehearse their eternal hymns, and 
God alone touches the organ keys of the ocean and makes 


the billows swell in glorious symphonies over the vasty 
deep and sound in sobbing tones or sublime anthems on 
every shore. The finite mind of man may not be able to 
comprehend and his heart to feel the divine harmonies of the 
vast orchestra of nature, but in the ear of the Infinite 
Leader of the choir of the universe they are ever rehearsing 
aright a grand oratorio. 

With the exception of a few alphabetic and alliterative 
poems found in the Old Testament Scriptures, the traces 
of artificial metrical arrangement in Hebrew poetry are 
too variant and indistinct to form any definite and coher- 
ent system of poetic art. 

The Hebrew bards fully understood the energy and 
power of their language and also its capability of cadence 
and harmony, and the sublime truths and thoughts given 
and controlled by divine inspiration were expressed in 
vivid and appropriate words and imagery, attended with 
a thrilling rhythm of utterance which was natural and 
not artificial. They were profoundly conscious of the 
diverse emotions of the human soul and of the grandeur 
and varied beauties of nature, but they never indulged in 
glowing sentimentalism and extended picturesque descrip- 
tion, which have employed so much of the elegant diction 
of classic and modern poetic art. Their symbols and 
metaphors were not used as graceful figures of rhetoric, 
but as illustrations of divine attributes and to enforce the 
great truths that absorbed all their thoughts. Their 
enthusiasm was too intense and their conceptions too 
vivid to be trammelled by any rigid rules of art. They 
were nature's poets and God's messengers to mankind, and 
their messages were for all the ages and were expressed 
in language to touch the chords of every human heart. 

We will now consider briefly the most plausible system 
of rules which have been presented as to the artificial 
structure of Hebrew poetry. Since the delivery of the 
justly celebrated lectures of Bishop Lowth, the various 


styles of Hebrew poetry have generally been included 
under the generic name of parallelism. It is insisted 
that such a poetic structure is not found to much extent 
in any other literature. He defines the term to mean a 
certain correspondence in words, sentences and thoughts 
in parallel lines. Subsequent critics and scholars have 
suggested additions and modifications to Bishop Lowth's 
system, and presented many illustrative examples, but 
all concede that there is an obvious rhythmical symmetry 
of words, thoughts and members. This symmetry in 
Hebrew poetry has been very appropriately styled 
"thought rhythm," as all the ideas conveyed are in har- 
monious accord, and in unison with the finest and purest 
affections, sentiments and feelings of man's moral and 
religious nature. It does not need the elaborate elegance 
and delicate finish of art to display its excellence, but 
with simple and inherent power it wakens a melody in 
the soul which words cannot fully express, but which is 
breathed in longing aspirations for a higher, holier and 
immortal life. The parallelistic arrangement certainly 
exists in the structure of Hebrew poetry. It may not be 
as pleasing to an artistic and cultivated taste as the 
euphony of rhyme or the modulated metre and musical 
flow of blank verse and the classic hexameter, but its 
comparatively inartificial structure allowed greater free- 
dom in the use of words and sentences, and was thus 
better suited to express the grand and lofty conceptions 
and emotions of an earnest, impassioned, imaginative and 
primitive people. 

We have a very limited knowledge upon this subject, 
but it seems to us that too great a variety of species of 
parallelism have been presented to admit of any definite 
laws regulating their artificial structure. 

Bishop Lowth divides the parallelism into three dis- 
tinctive species, to which we will briefly refer, without 
giving nis full definitions and illustrations. 


The synonymous parallelism is more frequently used 
than any other, and consists in the repetition of the same 
sentiment in parallel lines in different , but equivalent 
terms. In illustrating this species of parallelism, an 
English poet and critic finely remarked, "In repeating the 
same idea in different words the Hebrew muse seems as if 
displaying a fine opal that discovers fresh beauty in every 
new light in which it is turned. Numerous and beautiful 
passages in the Old Testament might be cited as exam- 
ples of this kind of parallelism. 

The antithetic parallelism was also used by the Hebrew 
bards in their didactic and sententious poetry when any- 
thing was illustrated by its contrary being placed in 
opposition, thus, 

The heaven is my throne and 
The earth is my footstool, 

showing the importance and grandeur of one over the 
other. And again, as setting forth the greatness, majesty 
and glory of God, as compared with man. 

It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, 
And the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers. 

I am not able to form a clear and satisfactory concep- 
tion of the synthetic parallelism from the definition of 
Bishop Lowth. He says, in substance, that it consists 
only in the similar form of construction of sentences in 
which there is some correspondence and equality between 
different propositions. He also says: 'The degrees of 
the correspondence of the lines of this sort of parallels 
must, from the nature of it, be various. Sometimes the 
parallelism is more, sometimes less exact, sometimes 
hardly apparent." 

While there is some general resemblance between 
many of the illustrative examples given by writers on 
this subject, yet in nearly every instance there is some 
marked diversity. Most of such examples are highly 


poetic in sentiment and diction, and may be classed to- 
gether on account of their general similitude, but they 
manifest no artistic intention of making them similar in 
literary structure. They may be compared to the moun- 
tains which God has constructed. Between the separate 
elevations of a mountain range there is a correspondence 
in form and nature, as they are all mountains rising from 
the valleys toward the heavens, and yet they all have 
many distinctive features, and together they form a grand 
and imposing prospect as they gleam with the beauty of 
the sunlight, or are dimly discovered through their misty 
veils, or are seen robed with the tranquil' azure of the 
distance. Thus the elevated thoughts and feelings of 
the inspired bards were constructed into resembling forms 
of poetic language, rhythmical in cadences and glowing 
with truth and beauty, without any artistic intention in 
the choice of words" and the structure of sentences. We 
often find the various species of parallelism so closely 
and intimately intermingled that they cannot be sep- 
arated without disturbing the harmony and beauty of the 

In Isaiah's description of the coming golden age of 
the Messiah, we find, not only the three species of parallel- 
ism designated by Bishop Lowth, but many other forms 
of Hebrew poetry. They were combined and blended 
into a magnificent synthetic poem, not by any rules of 
poetic art, but by the untrammelled power of divine 
inspiration and the highest genius. It is a splendid out- 
burst of poetic rapture, produced by the glorious scenes 
of the coming future that gleamed with celestial radiance 
upon the spiritual vision of the prophet bard. The lan- 
guage in which he pictured his vivid imagery, and express- 
ed his sublime thoughts, gushed from his mind and heart in 
spontaneous freedom, purity, beauty and liquid melody, just 
like thj crystal, musical and leaping rills flow from the 
sides of Hermon to form the rolling and swelling Jordan. 


I will not refer to the other species of parallelism 
pointed out by learned Biblical critics and scholars. The 
diversity of species and examples which they present 
tend to show that the Hebrew bards were not controlled 
by fixed rules of art in the structure of the parallelism. 
The Hebrew parallelism, consisting of brief, sententious 
and simple propositions in parallel lines, was a natural 
and not an artificial arrangement of language, and was 
not metrical in its structure. Exactness, uniformity, regu- 
larity, skill, and strict carefulness are some of the prop- 
erties and rules of art in the construction of poetic com- 
position. The productions of the Hebrew bards seem to 
be the spontaneous outgushing of fervid thoughts and 
feelings glowing with imagery and rhythmical with natu- 
ral melodies. 

Nature seems to use the principle of the parallelism of 
resemblance, comparison or contrast in displaying many 
of her highest beauties and sublimest objects', but uses it 
in infinite variety, as did the Hebrew bards. The ocean 
rolling billow after billow on the shore and yet each 
billow having a slightly variant sound, produced by the 
diverse influences of the changeful winds and the ebbing 
and flowing tides, is a striking example of nature's synony- 
mous parallelism. We often see an antithetic parallelism in 
nature when a dark and stormy night is followed by a clear 
morning, and the tranquil skies are beautifully blue, and 
soft melodies are floating on the balmy air, and the 
sportive sunbeams are sparkling and glowing on the rich 
and dewy verdure of the landscape. 

The still vast night when the stars in serene and silvery 
brightness are moving through the dark fields of immen- 
sity in ceaseless and glorious march around a grand central 
and controlling orb in the far distant regions of the uni- 
verse, is a synthetic poem of w r ondrous beauty and im- 
pressive grandeur. 

The beauty and expressiveness of symbols, metaphors, 


parables and allegories are in a great degree dependent 
upon the parallelism which they present. How often do 
we see in poetry and prose a parallelism between the sea- 
sons of the year and the different periods of human life. 
The Spring is youth with its brightness, freshness and 
hope; the Summer is manhood with its ardor, passionate 
energy and development of power; Autumn is the time 
of fruition, repose and gentle decline, and hoary Winter 
is the season of old age, decrepitude and death. The 
whole realm of nature and the departments of art are full 
of rich, varied and beautiful parallelisms which are sources 
of poetic inspiration and intellectual pleasures. 

We will not dwell longer upon the subject of parallelisms 
which are generally conceded to be characteristic pecul- 
airities of Hebrew poetry. We will not further consider 
the vexed question, whether Hebrew poetry in connection 
with the parallelism had any artificial rules of metrical 
arrangement. A knowledge of the rules of Hebrew metre, 
if any ever existed, might satisfy the eager curiosity of 
archaeologists but would not contribute much to the en- 
lightenment of mankind. The spirit of Hebrew poetry 
is immortal and its beauty of imagery and sublimity, its 
tearful pathos and its holy and blessed truths are trans- 
fused into every language in which the Bible has been 

The style of the Hebrew bards is highly symbolic and 
metaphorical. Many of the symbols and metaphors were 
derived from familiar natural objects and the scenes and 
occurances of social and domestic life, which gave sim- 
plicity to their poetry and made it more pleasing and in- 
telligible to the popular mind. How frequent and how 
beautiful are the illustrations which they derived from the 
animal and vegetable kingdoms and from the broad fields 
of the earth and the skies. The rose, the lily, the vine, 
the figtree, the cedar and palm, and other trees and 
flowers, are interwoven in their garlands of song, fresh in 


living verdure, fragrant with rich perfumes and sparkling 
with dews. In referring to the rich fancy of the Hebrew poets 
in the natural world we may liken them to the Psalmists' 
discription of the dove, whose wings are " covered with 
silver and her feathers with yellow gold;" and they often 
mounted on wings as eagles and soared to the home of 
the thunder and storm and to the still higher regions of 
immensity and unclouded light; and on the wings of the 
morning they went to the uttermost parts of the sea, and 
everywhere found the majesty, the power, the goodness 
and the glory of God. 

The Hebrew poets also invested inanimate objects with 
the attributes of sentient life. To them the harmonious 
voices of the hills, woods and streams; the deep tones of 
the thunder, the tempest and restless sea were intelligible 
utterances and were translated into their poetry. To 
them the roar of the lion, the screams of the eagle, the 
songs of the birds and the chirps of insects were filled 
with poetic meaning. The description of the warhorse in 
Job is intensely poetical. It is more picturesque and glow- 
ing than a painting. The pen of inspired genius is far 
more graphic than the pencil of art. 

The Hebrew poets felt that they lived in a grand sanc- 
tified earthly temple, luminous with the presence of 
Jehovah, decorated with the beauties of nature which He 
had formed, and ever sounding with multitudinous tones 
of melody. Every object and living creature that sur- 
rounded them were animated with an intelligent and 
communing spirit, ever teaching the love and watchful 
care of an invisible but omnipotent Father. The Hebrew 
bards truly " looked through nature up to nature's God" 
and from him and the works of His hands received their 
sublime inspiration. They loved to hear the voices of 
nature and see her various beauties; and she taught them 
to modulate their melodies of language, and furnished 
their glorious imagery. They were also familiar with the 


harmonies of the human heart when swelling with en- 
thusiasm, bounding with joy, sobbing with sorrow or 
breathing out the earnest and reverential accents of 
thanksgiving and praise. 

Much of the Hebrew poetry was lyrical, and, even in 
our language, has a pleasing rhythmic flow which is easily 
adapted to elegant music. The book of Psalms, called 
in the Hebrew language " The Book of Praises," is a 
collection of sacred lyrics. The name given this book in 
the Septuagint version clearly shows that the Psalms were 
chanted in accompaniment to stringed instruments of 
music. The Word Psalm was derived from a Greek verb 
signifying " to touch or strike a chord.". 

We have abundant evidence for believing that the 
Hebrews were fond of music and attained high excellence 
in that beautiful art. From various examples recorded in 
the Old Testament, and from the form of most of their 
lyrical productions we may properly conclude that their 
sacred hymns were from the earliest times chanted in re- 
sponsive melodies. This was the manner prescribed by 
David for the Temple service, and the Priests and Levites 
responded in alternate choirs. Isaiah describes the Sera- 
phim as chanting in the same manner the praises of 
Jehovah in the Heavenly Temple 

" Holy ! Holy ! Holy ! is the Lord ot Hosts 
The whole earth is full of His glory." 

The antiphonal or responsive style of chanting sacred 
hymns was used by the Greeks and other ancient nations 
and was almost invariably adopted in the Christian Churhes 
of the patristic ages. 

Neither the Hebrews, the Greeks or any other nation 
of antiquity had a full knowledge of the delicacy, variety 
and richness of the harmony of sounds which have added 
so much to the glory of music in modern times. Among 
the ancients music was simply an art, now it may be re- 
garded as an elegant and complicated science. This ad- 


vancement of music had its origin at an early age in the 
religious services of the Christian Church. Christian 
music exerted a refining and elevating influence, and to- 
gether with Christian art and poety greatly assisted in 
producing the splendid aesthetic culture of modern civili- 
zation. Music as a science combines melody and harmony. 
The technical signification of melody is an arrangement 
in succession of different sounds of the same voice or in- 
strument. Harmony is the result of the union of two or 
more concording musical sounds. When properly attuned 
musical strings of varying tones are struck in pleasing 
succession melody is produced. When two or more strings 
that are in unison are touched at the same time their 
sounds blend into harmony. There may be melody with- 
out harmony, but harmony is always the union of melodies. 
The varying notes of the bird, the diverse whisperings 
of the breezes and the continuous murmurings of the rills 
are full of melody, but such sounds are not in artistic 

The musical instruments of the ancient nations were 
rude and simple and not capable of much delicacy, variety 
and compass of accordant sounds. The skillful performer 
could produce the mazy running melodies of sound but 
could not waken many accordant notes and combine and 
blend them in sweet harmonies. We know, however that 
ancient music had an enlivening, stirring and even en- 
rapturing effect upon the hearers. How often in Grecian 
history and literature do we read of the magical influence 
of the Doric flute and the Lesbian lyre. The timbrels of 
Miriam and her maidens accompanying the chorus of the 
triumphal hymn of Moses, filled the hearts of rescued 
Israel with holy raptures; and the witchery of David's 
harp exorcised the evil spirit from the bosom of Saul. 

The effects of music depend in a great degree upon 
attendant circumstances and the feelings and tastes of the 
hearers. The sublime oratorios of Handel, Mozart and 


Beethoven are universally admired by the Christian world, 
as they awaken in every mind and heart grand associations 
of thought and holy emotions. 

The elegant and complex opera may be highly appre- 
ciated by cultivated musical amateurs whose ears are at- 
tuned to delicate, various and nicely blending harmonies, 
but we find that the sweet melodies of the simple songs 
that are sung in solo always produce the encoring outburst 
of popular appreciation and applause. The wild Indian 
would listen with stolid indifference to the sublimest and 
most finished production of musical genius, when a rude 
war-song of the braves around the council fire would 
arouse all the fierce and cruel passions of his savage nature 
and make him rush on danger without a single feeling of 
fear. The wonderful influences of the songs of the Scald, 
the lays of the minstrels and the home ballads of the 
peasant are so well attested in history that I will only 
refer to them by way of illustration. 

The precise character of Hebrew music is unknown, but 
we have abundant information as to the influence which 
it exerted on the popular mind and heart. From the 
nature of the instruments used in the Temple service the 
music must have been loud and shrill, but it was well 
adapted to the exultant and joyous Psalms of thanksgiving 
and praise that were chanted by the choirs of Levites and 
responded to by the great congregation of the people. 
As the choirs of Levites were numerous and well trained, 
and were composed of male and female singers we may 
well suppose that they had some knowledge of the prin- 
ciples of harmony, and that the various voices did not 
mingle discordant strains. Their glorious anthems may 
not have swelled through the courts and porches of the 
Temple in rich and varied harmonies, but we feel assured 
that to the devout Israelites they were as soul-stirring and 
heart-subduing as the sublime choruses of the Te Deum 
and the weeping melodies of the Miserere as they swell 


through the marble corridors, lengthened aisles and lofty 
arches of St. Peter's, and hush in profound silence all but 
the sobbing voices from hearts of penitent worshipers. 
But all our conjectures are in vain. The Old Hebrew 
harps have been silent for twenty-five centuries. Since 
they were hung upon the willows of Babylon to catch 
the sighs of the moaning winds, no hand has waked their 
sweet and noble melodies; but the grand and glorious 
songs of Zion that thrilled the hearts of the old Hebrews 
in the age of their national pride and glory, have in after 
times carried messages of admonition, instruction, comfort 
and joy to the people of God, and they will in a coming 
age blend in the harmonies of the sublime anthem of 
universal worship as it arises from earth to heaven. 


Some of the Events in the History of the 
Hebrews which Contributed to their Poetic 

In comparing Hebrew poetry with the poetry of other 
nations any one will be impressed with the fact that the 
Hebrew bards expressed their sublime thoughts and 
intense moral and spiritual emotions with remarkable 
force, terseness and simplicity, and illustrated them with 
unusually vivid and appropriate imagery. Much of their 
sublimity of conception was derived from Divine inspira- 
tion, but there were many natural causes well calculated 
to give fertility, elevation and vividness to their genius. 
We will consider some of these causes in this and suc- 
ceeding lectures. 

The early history of a nation is one of the most fertile 
fields of poetic thought and imagery. The genius of 
poesy loves to linger among those remote scenes and 
events over which time has cast a misty veil, mellowing 
what was dark and terrible into grand and beautiful 
imagery; just as distance throws its hazy enchantment 
over the rugged features of nature and softens and blends 
the lights and shadows and various objects which form 
the pleasing landscape. 

In this respect the Hebrew bards possessed peculiar 
advantages, as they had a history extending far back into 
the misty regions of antiquity, and fuller of important 
events and thrilling incidents than the history of any 
other people that ever existed; and these events and 
incidents were continually presented to their minds with 

6 4 

wonderful distinctness and power in the yearly celebration 
of their national feasts and religious ordinances. 

The land in which they lived was almost as fertile and 
beautiful as the garden of Eden, and nearly every spot 
was hallowed by memories of divine blessings and by 
interesting historic associations. They were endowed 
with the warm and glowing fancy of the Orient, and were 
highly susceptible of grand and beautiful impressions. 

We will now rapidly refer to some of the great events 
which necessarily gave coloring and vividness to their 
fancy, and first of all stands forth the sublime scenes of 
creation. The first chapter of Genesis furnishes the 
grandest historic panorama ever presented to human con- 
templation. In every line it bears the impress of divinity. 
It is the oldest record of history and the only one that 
gives any definite account of the origin of the earth and 
the creation of man. Blot it out and these great events 
would ever be unfathomable mysteries to mankind. 

The wonderful, but still imperfect discoveries of physical 
science, as interpreted by infidel and undevout philoso- 
phers, have created in skeptical minds some speculative 
doubts as to the truthfulness of the Mosaic narrative; but 
no such doubts existed in the minds of the Hebrews. 
They were not acquainted with the "Records of the 
Rocks," and knew nothing of the teachings of Copernican 
astronomy. They looked upon the world as it appeared 
to their vision, and had entire confidence in the narrative 
of their great leader and lawgiver, who had afforded so 
many evidences of his supernatural wisdom and power, 
and his immediate converse with Jehovah. 

When they read or heard the account given in their 
sacred book of the marvelous events of creation, with 
fervent faith they formed vivid conceptions of that period, 
when, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the 
earth. And the earth was without form and void, and 
darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of 


God moved upon the face of the waters;" and their 
devout minds were filled with the noblest emotions by 
those sublime creative words, "And God said, Let there 
be light." What a magnificent scene was then presented, 
witnessed only by God and the angels, and revealed to 
Moses in glorious vision. Upon the utterance of those 
creative words the dark waters and thick clouds which 
curtained the pavilion of Jehovah's secret habitation were 
rent asunder, and light beamed from the eternal throne 
and cast a flood of celestial radiance over the turbid ocean 
of chaos and made it glitter and gleam with golden glory. 

The heart of a pious Hebrew must have been filled with 
feelings of the highest rapture when, with vivid mental 
vision, he saw, in grand succession, the unveiling scenes 
of the wondrous panorama of creation — when God 
covered Himself with light as with a garment, stretched 
out the heavens like a curtain, laid the beams of His 
chambers in the waters, made the clouds His chariots 
and walked upon the wings of the wind, attended by 
angel spirits and ministers like a flaming fire. What grand 
emotions must have thrilled his soul when his fancy 
pictured the earth as it was upheaved amid the receding 
waters and was covered in rapid succession with fresh 
verdure, bright and odoriferous flowers and with clustering 
vines and trees laden with luscious fruits; while the 
waters gathered into rushing rivers, gurgling streams, 
and "springs in the valleys that ran among the hills," or 
settled into broadband shining lakes and seas, or rolled 
in magnificent billows that chafed in angry murmurs on 
the ocean's shore, as if restive and impatient, even at 
Omnipotent control. 

We imagine that the fourth scene in the panorama of 
creation would have excited, in the highest degree, the 
impressible and enthusiastic nature of an Oriental. When 
the sun seemed to come out of the gorgeous chambers of 
the ist and slowly moved in radiant splendors up the 


blue arch of the firmament, dispelling the misty vapors/ 
flooding the earth with golden light, giving a fresher 
verdure to grass and herb and tree, shedding richness of 
color and sweeter perfume upon the shining flowers, and 
glowing in quivering beams upon the living waters, and 
then, when his munificent course was run, casting a back- 
Ward glance of iridescent glory upon the earth and skies 
which he had beautified and blessed. Then twilight 
moved with silent shadows over the slumberous earth, 
and from the gathering gloom of the coming night the 
little, timid, trembling stars peeped out like the twinkling 
eyes of the immortals from their celestial homes, and 
then, the moon, in queenly beauty, attended by the shining 
planets, made the heavens "darkly, deeply and beautifully 
blue," and covered with soft, mellow and silvery light 
the objects which had just been glowing with the golden 
glories of the day, and then the balmy breezes and lull- 
ing voices of nature breathed their gentle and soothing 
melodies. We are not surprised that primeval man when 
he lost the knowledge of the true God should have bowed 
in worship to the sun and heavenly hosts, as they are 
grand objects and were well calculated to inspire the 
unenlightened child of nature with feelings of the highest 
adoration. . ' 

To the Hebrews who had a correct knowledge of Him 
who placed the sun in the firmament and guided all the 
heavenly hosts in their unerring and shining courses, the 
daily and nightly scenes which they witnessed were but 
manifestations of divine goodness and mercy, and while 
they elevated their feelings of adoration for the great 
creator, they were not objects of idolatrous worship. The 
ideas and emotions which they inspired were sublimely 
poetical, and the grandest and most beautiful metaphors 
of the Hebrew bards were derived from the gorgeous skies 
of their Orient clime. 

We will not refer at any length to the other scenes 


presented in the panorama of creation, although they are 
full of poetic suggestions and imagery. Then were created 
the monsters of the deep and the countless myriads of 
living creatures that moved in the waters. Then the 
wide expanded firmament and the vast forests of earth 
were filled with flying fowls, and with the singing birds 
that rejoiced in the instincts of life and poured forth 
their sweetest melodies. Then the hills and valleys were 
covered with numerous animals of various forms and na- 
tures that were wonderfully adapted for the purposes of 
their creation. Then man stood amidst the sinless bowers 
of Paradise, made in the image of Go.d, but a little lower 
than the angels, and invested with power and dominion 
over every living creature of earth. 

Then came the Sabbath, especially sanctified by God for 
rest, holiness and worship. How exceedingly beautiful 
must that first Sabbath have been, when God in visible 
glory was present in the holy temple which He had just 
finished, and all created things were offering sinless adora- 
tion and praise, and were listening with devout and pure 
raptures to the hymning harmonies of the angels. Earth 
was then but an outer court of the heavenly sanctuary, 
and life to man was fresh, joyous and immortal. No son 
of genius in his brightest dreams, no prophet in the 
hightest ecstacies of inspiration ever saw a vision of earth 
as gloriously beautiful as that first Sabbath which God 
blessed and hallowed when the work of creation was done. 

It will come no more to the sin-cursed earth, but will 
dawn again on the Millennial morning, and then brighten 
into the higher radiance and glory of the eternal day in 

The fall of man which 

" Brought death into the world and all our woe, 
With loss of Eden," 

was one of the most important events in history. It was 
the beginning of man's sinful and sorrowful destiny. The 


sacred record of this event is very short, but it must have 
been very impressive and suggestive to the Hebrews. It 
filled the mind of Milton with grander imagery and more 
eloquent and rhythmic thoughts than were ever conceived 
by any other uninspired genius. What a wonderful transi- 
tion for our first parents, from a condition of immortality, 
perfect purity, holiness and bliss, into a condition of sin, 
pain, labor, suffering and expectant death ! Can there ever 
be a scene of human sorrow so full of deep and thrill- 
ing pathos as the departure from the Eden home of 
love, light and joy ? When the streams, the trees, the 
flowers, the breezes and the pure angel spirits of Eden sent 
forth a melancholy chant of pity and farewell to Adam 
and Eve as with sorrowing hearts and weeping eyes they 
passed beneath the flaming sword of the Cherubim, into 
the dark world of exile, carrying with them none of the 
blessings of Eden, but human love, memories of joy and 
beauty and the blessed hope of Heaven through a Re- 
deemer. How sad and drear and lonely must have been 
the first days of their exile. No angel voices cheered 
their drooping hearts, or with etherial melodies soothed 
their troubled slumbers. No more could they gather the 
luscious fruits which their sinless lips had tasted, and they 
thirsted in vain for the crystal waters that flowed by the 
tree of life. The flowers that bloomed in amaranthine 
bowers no longer delighted their sight and made them 
breathe delicious perfumes. The birds still sang in the 
bramble and brake, and in the wild woodlands, but they 
had lost the joyous trill with which they had once joined 
in the choir of the angels. The animals once so tame, so 
gentle, so sportive and so loving had now become es- 
tranged from man and each other. The blood of the 
lamb was on the fangs of the wolf, and the down of the 
dove was on the beak of the vulture. With crested head 
and quivering tongue the poisonous basilisk coiled in the 
pathway, the eagle screamed from his eyrie as he swooped 


for his prey, the fiery eye of the tiger gleamed from the 
jungle, and the angry roar of the lion made every living 
thing tremble with fear. 

Altnough man lost so much by the fall still God in His 
infinite goodness and mercy made earth a beautiful home, 
and watched with loving and tender care over his erring 
children. Adam and Eve were soothed in their sadness 
by the blessed hope of redemption, and during their long 
and checkered lives had many days of brightness and joy, 
mingled with days of darkness and sorrow. These primal 
scenes in human history are full of beauty and poetry to 
us, but they must have been far more impressive to the 
earnest and religious Hebrews in the beautiful land which 
God had given to them for an inheritance. 

The short fragmentary history of the antediluvian 
age is very suggestive of poetical thoughts to an im- 
aginative mind. Adam was created in the image of His 
Maker, in the full perfection of manhood, and must have 
possessed extensive knowledge and wisdom, which his 
centuries of life enabled him to communicate to his 
descendants. The longevity of the antediluvian patri- 
archs afforded them ample time and opportunities to 
increase in knowledge, and improve the arts and sciences 
which contributed to the necessities, comforts and ele- 
gances of life. They built cities and many of them "became 
mighty men which were of old men of renown." Then the 
"sons of God" loved and wooed the beautiful daughters 
of men, and lived with them in wedded bliss. Then 
Jabal and his children pitched their tents on the green 
hillsides and fertile valleys, and in the midst of flocks 
and herds, dwelt in the quiet contentment of plenty and 

Then the tuneful sons of Jubal made their simple harps 
and pipes breathe forth sweet melodies to their astonished, 
delighted and rejoicing kindred. Then Tubal-Cain on 
his ringing anvil taught men how to form the sword and 


spear for angry strife, and the plow-share and pruning- 
hook for peaceful husbandry. 

The fact is worthy of being noticed in this connection, 
that Lamech, the first poet of whom we have any history, 
was the father of Jabal, Jubal and Tubal-Cain, the in- 
ventors of the arts to which we have referred. 

Pastoral life and the arts have always been associated 
with poetry. The song which Lamech sang to his dis- 
tressed and weeping wives has been called the "song of 
the sword." It is the only extant antediluvian song, and 
was transmitted by tradition through many dark centuries 
and, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, was recorded 
by Moses. It seems to have been preserved because it 
was the prelude notes of the awful diapason of war and 
carnage, which, amid the wail of humanity, has resounded 
through succeeding ages. It was the first recorded song 
of sinful man, and recalls to our memory the facts that, 
at the creation of the sinless earth, "the morning stars 
sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy," 
and the first song of the Gospel was the anthem of glory, 
peace and good will to men which the angels sang to the 
shepherds of Bethlehem. 

We will not dwell longer upon the antediluvian age. 
With the exception of the short narrative of Moses, it 
has no authentic history. It has ever been and will ever 
be a period of mystery and conjecture. No mortal hand 
will ever uncover the flood-buried annals of mankind. 
Many traditions and legends of this age must have existed 
among the Hebrews and filled up omissions in their 
fragmentary sacred history, and must have presented 
vivid pictures of antediluvian patriarchal life, and pro- 
duced many songs and poems which have been lost in the 
whelming tides of time. 

No event in the history of the world produced a more 
profound and lasting impression upon the ancient nations 
than the deluge. Traditions of this event, resembling in 


many respects the Mosaic narrative, existed amon^ the 
Chaldeans, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks and other Oriental 
nations, and were also found among the American Indians, 
the Mexicans and Peruvians, upon a distant continent, 
unknown to the nations of the ancient world. These 
traditions mingled with the religious beliefs of these 
nations and constituted a large ingredient in their poetical 
literature. We may well conclude that an event so 
graphically recorded by Moses, and so implicitly believed 
by his people, and so suggestive of terror, power and 
immensity, must have highly excited the fervid imagina- 
tion, and stirred to the utmost depths the souls of the 
religious Hebrews. Even in this distant age, the short, 
simple and impressive narrative of Moses, enfeebled as it 
is by translation into our language, presents a vivid and 
subHme picture. 

We can form only a faint conception of the thoughts 
and emotions which must have filled the minds and hearts 
of Noah and his family when shut up in the ark by the 
hand of God, saddened with human sorrows, but in the 
tranquil confidence of faith, and in security and solemn 
repose, they passed unharmed through the great world 

Universal night, as deep and dark as chaos, shrouded 
the earth, the windows of heaven were opened and forth 
came the rushing torrents and the howling storms. The 
fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the 
cruel hungry waters, in seething billows, gatheied around 
their shrieking and defenceless victims. Loud wails of 
agony sounded through the terrific gloom, rising above 
the roar of the tempests, and grew fainter and fainter in 
the continuous midnight. Then was heard 

"A solitary shriek, the bubbling cry, 
Of some strong swimmer in his agony," 

and then all became still save the triumphant shouts of 
the winds and waves as they swept over that ocean 


without a shore. Long they kept their wild revels over 
the vast watery grave of the sinful race, and then they 
became obedient to the Almighty power that sent them 
forth on their dread mission of devastation and death; 
.and the winds were tamed into breezes and the subdued 
waters rolled in playful and musical billows over the bosom 
of the receding ocean. The raven messenger returned 
not from his unweared flight; the timid dove three times 
sent forth upon the restless winds, at last brought an 
emblem of peace and good will; the mountains rose into 
the serene heavens amid the sunlit air, and then the 
purged and renovated earth smiled in fresh verdure and 
beauty. The smoke of the sacrifice then ascended from 
Noah's rude altar, and then upon the astonished vision 
of the late flood-voyagers shone the bow of promise 
in motionless calm and glorious radiance, the effulgent 
and benignant light of the great eye of heaven glowing 
on the dark bosom of the receding storm. 

Some of the grandest poetry in every literature is 
derived from the contemplation of the ocean. Whether 
tortured into fury by the wintry storms or reposing in 
calm benignant glory beneath bright summer skies, the 
ocean is an emblem of vastness, dread magnificence and 
power, and fills the mind and heart with a sublimity of awe 
that is produced by no other object in the natural world. 
We feel that it is an image of eternity, a " glorious mirror 
where the Almighty's form" is almost visible, and it rolls 
on "fathomless and alone" 

" Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow 
Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now." 

Yet man passes over its watery wildernesses, encounters 
its wild billows and reaches the safe harbors of commerce. 
He can measure its expanse, map out its currents, dive 
into its caverns and gather its hid treasures, and send the 
lightning bearing human thoughts over its submerged 
valleys and mountains. It was not so with the unknown, 


the illimitable and fathomless oceans of Chaos and the 
Deluge. If the Atlantic and Pacific, as they mingle their 
waters and sweep round the globe, clap their hands in 
fierce joy and call to each other across the continent, 
produce such high poetic inspirations and furnish such 
magnificent imagery, we may somewhat conceive the in- 
fluence upon the minds and hearts of the Hebrews while 
contemplating in fervid thought that universal ocean that 
once rolled in darkness over the unformed world; or those 
shoreless and whelming tides upon which floated the 
solitary Ark bearing the remnant of the human race and 
moving without chart and compass under the guidance 
of an Omnipotent Pilot until safely anchored upon the top 
of lofty Ararat. 

The short post-diluvian history to the time of Abraham, 
showing the formation of the different nations and the 
re-peopling of the earth by various migrations, presented 
many striking scenes which together with many traditions 
opened a wide field for the poetic fancy and speculative 
thought of the Hebrews. 

The divine call of Abraham, accompanied with the 
promise that he should be the father of a great nation and 
in him should all the families of the earth be blessed, was 
the most important event in early Hebrew history. It 
was the genesis of that peculiar and distinctive race, and 
all the attendant circumstances of tribal development 
were well calculated to fill the hearts of their posterity 
with pious, patriotic and poetic feelings. We know that 
primal events in the histories of other peoples were fruitful 
sources of poetic sentiment. The Phcenecian Cecrops 
founded the kingdom of Attica, and the mythic stories of 
those early days were immortalized in Grecian art, elo- 
quence and song. ^Eneas fleeing from the ruins of Troy, 
and after varied fortunes reaching the Lavinian shore and 
planting the germ of the Latin race, is the subject of 
Virgil's sublime epic. The landing of Hengist and Horsa 


and their Saxon followers on the shores of Britain is an 
important and poetic era in English history. The simple 
annals of the Pilgrim Fathers and the Christian heroism 
which they displayed in laying the foundations of our free 
civil and religious institutions kindle the genius and 
patriotism of the American people, thrill and renovate 
the heart, and have produced some of the finest eloquence 
and poetry in our literature. 

No poet of ancient or modern times has ever drawn an 
ideal character equal to that of the God chosen Abraham, 
or in their brightest dreams of genius have conceived of 
scenes of pastoral quietude, contentment and repose 
comparable in simple beauty to those presented in the 
sacred history of that grand old nomadic chieftain dwell- 
ing on the wolds of Canaan. He was so just and generous 
in all his intercourse with his neighbors. With tender 
and fatherly care he watched over his obedient family and 
instructed them in his sublime faith and wisdom. No 
dreams of ambition, no longings for temporal power, no 
cares and anxieties about earthly wealth ever marred the 
quietude of his repose or disturbed the serenity of his 
noble spirit. In his hospitable tents the poor and strangers 
found a cordial welcome, and angels were sometimes his 
guests. He was brave and unselfish and ever ready to 
succor the wronged and oppressed. He possessed and 
always exhibited the noblest traits of human character, 
and well deserved his glorious destiny, as the " Friend of 
God," the progenitor of a great nation and the spiritual 
father of the faithful in all coming ages. 

The histories of Isaac and Jacob, although written in 
simple prose, are full of the spirit and imagery of poetry. 
The story of Joseph is an idyl of incomparable pathos and 
beauty. It has won the admiration of every age, and no 
one who has any poetry in his soul can read it without 
feeling the sweetest and tenderest emotions, while his 
eyes are hazy with tears. 


Now we come to the long sojourn in Egypt, the "land 
of cloudless clime and starry skies," the land of treasure, 
cities, pyramids, obelisks and gorgeous temples of the 
sun, the land of the figtree, the lotus and palm, and 
where the generous Nile, with its wealth of sweet waters, 
made a fertile garden in the desert. In the green pas- 
tures of Goshen the sons of Jacob dwelt as herdsmen and 
shepherds under the munificent care of their princely 
brother. Then came the hard bondage under the Pharaoh 
who knew not Joseph. Then a beautiful and wondrous 
child was placed by a pious mother, with love and faith, 
in a frail cradle upon the turbid river, and he was reared 
in the palaces of Egypt, and was instructed in all the 
wisdom of that highly cultured people. Then came the 
set time for Israel's deliverance. The sound of the cruel 
taskmaster's scourge and the supplicating cries and wails 
of anguish that had long ascended from the sweltering 
brick-fields and from the sorrowful homes of toiling and 
oppressed Israel, had been heard in heaven. A voice 
had spoken from the burning bush in Horeb, and the 
Midian shepherd, invested with divine power and wisdom, 
had returned from his mountain solitude to enter upon 
his mighty mission. Then commenced the grand drama 
of the exodus. Pharaoh would not let Israel go to serve 
their God, and nine times terrible judgments fell upon 
the people of that beautiful land. The Hebrews in their 
heaven-protected homes witnessed the terrific and won- 
drous scenes that were enacted around them. With ready 
obedience they consecrated their homes with the hyssop 
and blood of the lamb and prepared the Passover supper. 
With due preparation for journeying, they were eating in 
haste, when in the deep gloom of the midnight the 
startled air rang with the wild shrieks of a nation's agony, 
for the first-born in every Egyptian home was dead. 
Then came the command, "go forward," and on the desert 
pathway of the multitudinous host shone in blazing 

7 6 

radiance the moving pillar of fire. No people ever had 
such a commencement to their national destiny, and these 
initial scenes were but the beginning- of wonders. Toil- 
worn and weary with three days' march they reached the 
sea. The rapid tread of Pharaoh's advancing hosts and 
the noise of the chariot wheels were heard behind, and 
before them were the rolling and leaping waters. Their 
hearts were filled with fear and their mouths with bitter 
murmurings, but their undaunted leader stretched forth 
his rod over the swelling waves, and a strong east wind, 
like a mighty hand, rolled up the billows into walls as 
firm as adamant, and timid Israel went down on dry 
ground into the bosom of the deep and received the bap- 
tism of the sea, and when the morning came they stood 
in safety and freedom on the farther shore, and the pur- 
suing Egyptians were swallowed by the waves returning 
in their strength. 

Jehovah "hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his 
rider hath He thrown into the sea." Then from millions 
of rejoicing hearts swelled out a grand song of triumph 
over the desert and wild waters, and was echoed by the 
timbrels and choruses of Miriam and the women of 
rescued Israel. This was the first day of Israel's accom- 
plished freedom, and the first act of their national life 
was a grand triumphal and thanksgiving song, which 
seemed to consecrate them as Jehovah's earthly musicians 
and poets. 

Then commenced the stern discipline of the desert to 
prepare them for their higher destiny as a religious na- 
tion — a nation of priests holy unto the Lord. They tasted 
the bitter waters of Marah and murmured. With glad 
hearts they pitched their tents by the wells and palm 
trees of Elim. With astonished gaze they looked upon 
the dewy manna gleaming in the morning light. Then 
they fought with Amalek under the banner of Jehovah - 
Nissi. Then they saw sweet waters gushing from the 


rock of Horeb and in limpid coolness flowing along their 
hot and dusty desert pathway. Then, in the deep sub- 
limity of reverential awe, they stood beside trembling 
Sinai, and from its summit, mantled in thick clouds 
illumined with lightnings, they heard Jehovah pronounce 
His inexorable law. 

" The terrors of that awful day, though past, 
Have on the tide of time great glory cast." 

Every night when the Hebrews retired to rest they saw 
the pillar of fire blazing above the camp, and when they 
woke in the morning the first object that met their view 
was the pillar of cloud illumined with the roseate light of 
the dawn. In the midst of the encamping hosts stood the 
gorgeous Tabernacle, the dwelling place of Jehovah, cover- 
ing the Ark of the Covenant, the winged Cherubim and the 
fadeless Shechinah. The giving of the law and the conse- 
cration of the Tabernacle completed the organization of the 
nation, and we believe that the first act of their completed 
national life was the singing of the ninetieth Psalm — the 
song of Moses, " The Psalm of Eternity," the grand Te 
Deum, which through the ages has given consolation and 
joy to the living and the dying, and irradiated the memories 
and graves of the dead. We will not trace the history of 
the wilderness wanderings. After forty years of wondrous 
events Israel crossed the Jordan " dry shod" and pitched 
their tents in the beautiful land of Promise, their fore- 
fathers home. With such a varied and marvellous history 
gleaming with supernatural glory, and continued through 
eventful centuries, is it to be a matter of astonishment 
that Israel was a nation of bards, some of whose songs 
and sublime poems have so long thrilled the hearts of 
mankind and are destined to be the joy of the whole earth. 


Messianic Hopes. — Climate and Scenery o* 

Although the Hebrews had a grand and glorious history 
they had national and religious hopes still more glorious. 
The golden age of the heathen poets was in the past, 
but the Hebrew bards, while not unmindful of the past, 
were inspired with brighter expectations of the future; 
and they eagerly longed for the coming glories of the 
expected morning when the Sun of Righteousness would 
arise with healing in His wings. The genius of the Greek 
and Roman poets was kindled by contemplating the 
myths and traditions of fabulous and heroic ages; but 
the souls of the Hebrew bards glowed with fervid enthu- 
siasm, as, with the vivid visions of prophetic hope, they 
looked through the long vista of the future and saw, 
surrounded with triumphal splendors, the glorious King 
who would rule His people Israel; who would establish 
His throne on Mount Zion, and have dominion over the 
whole earth. That then the haughty and cruel Assyrian 
and Chaldean would be trodden under the feet of the 
conqueror, and the wild sons of Ishmael and Edom would 
bring tribute to the children of Jacob. 

With what a glorious burst of lyric rapture did Isaiah 
picture the future of Jerusalem — the type of the Church 
of God, — "Arise, shine, for thy light is come and the 
glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. And the Gentiles 
shall come to thy light and kings to the brightness of thy 
rising." "Whereas, thou has been forsaken and hated, so 
that no man went through thee; I will make thee an 
eternal excellency; a joy of many generations." "The 


sun no more shall be thy light by day; neither for bright- 
ness shall the moon give light unto thee, but the Lord 
shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God, thy 

Such thoughts, feelings and bright Messianic hopes 
must necessarily have given a rich and gorgeous coloring 
to the fancy of the Hebrews, as they entered into the 
faith and feelings of the entire nation. Tney stirred the 
languid blood and kindled with beaming light the eyes 
of the old patriarch as he sat at his tent "door at even- 
tide and mused in holy contemplation upon the promised 
blessings of Jehovah, and watched the sun softly sinking 
behind the purple shadows of the hills to rise again and 
gild with glory the portals of the morning. 

Such thoughts and hopes were ever present with the 
Priests and Levites, and hallowed their ministrations; and 
made luminous with the light of faith all the mystic rites 
of the ceremonial service. They .added a heavenly ra- 
diance to the smile of love which played upon the face 
of the young Hebrew mother as she soothed her beau- 
teous first-born son to quiet slumbers; and then the 
yearning hope for the Promised One made her bow, with 
almost adoration, beside the innocent and sleeping child. 

•On the lonely Judean hill, when the midnight had 
hushed all nature in solemn stillness and repose, the de- 
vout shepherd, as he tended his sleeping flock, and, in 
holy contemplation, gazed upon the deep blue skies, glow- 
ing with the emblazonry of orient stars, often had a more 
glorious mental vision of a coming time when the Expected 
One would appear as the Great Shepherd of Israel, and 
gather His spiritual flocks into the secure folds of His 
love, guide them gently and safely through the dark and 
dangerous valleys of earth; and then lead them to the 
green pastures on the everlasting hills of heaven, to drink 
the crystal waters of the river of life. 

The sublimest poetic raptures thrilled the hearts and il- 


lumined the imagination of the ancient prophets when in 
vivid vision they saw '■ The Prince of Peace, The Won- 
derful, The Councellor;" and their rapt and inspired souls 
heard some of the symphonies of the Seraphim, as they 
poured forth magnificent anthems of celestial joy and 

The expectation of the Messiah was coeval with the 
fall of man. It was awakened by the blessed promise 
that accompanied the primal curse of labor, sorrow and 
death. It existed among all the ancient nations as a dim 
and shadowy ideal conception, the yearning of the sad 
heart of humanity after some future good; some great 
deliverer from the ills and woes of life. With the Hebrews 
it was a real, vital and intense hope of individual happi- 
ness and national greatness and glory in the near future; 
and it cast a coruscating and consecrating glow upon all 
the proud achievements and memories of the past. It 
was a perpetual halo, shedding its light around their hearts 
and homes, and brightened all their ideas of the true, the 
beautiful and the good. 

We can scarcely be surprised to find that such a living 
hope greatly influenced Hebrew history, and is often 
found glowing in the highest strains of impassioned bards. 

We believe that it is generally conceded that the climate 
and scenery of a country have much influence in develop- 
ing the imaginative faculties of a poeple. There is no 
fact better established in the history of literature. There 
seems to be a peculiar combination of natural causes and 
objects necessary to produce the highest poetic inspira- 
tion. The genius of poesy seems to dwell only in lands 
where nature is wild, bright, joyous and beautiful; where 
she sings her jubilates on the sunny hills or in the shaded 
valleys, and the winds, storms and cataracts hymn their 
sublime te deums in mountain temples. The broad and 
fertile valleys of the Euphrates and Nile, although the 
birth-places of the arts, sciences and speculative philoso- 


phies, and were covered with rich and splendid cities, the 
homes of a highly civilized people, gave no immortal 
poetry to the ancient world. While Greece, filled with 
picturesque mountains and vales, with whispering groves 
and musical streams, surrounded by sun-bright seas dotted 
with emerald isles, was the favorite home of the Muses. The 
same may be said of Italy, lying beneath the shadows of 
the Alps, interspersed with shining lakes, rushing streams 
and laughing rills, intersected with the forest-clad Apen- 
nines and washed on either shore by the blue and gleaming 
waters of the Mediterranean. We might present similiar 
parallels of countries in modern times, but the fact as to 
the influences of climate and scenery is so well established 
that it needs no further argument or illustration. The 
contemplation of nature in its grand and beautiful aspects 
seems to expand the soul and give boldness and vigor to 
the flights of the imagination. From the contemplation 
of the wonders and beauties of the natural world man, 
even without divine revelation, may form a vivid concep- 
tion of a Deity. 

In looking upon the world, full of so many objects of 
usefulness, goodness and beauty, so skillfully adjusted and 
arranged in order and harmony, all beaming in the mag- 
nificence of light, the human mind is filled with the grand 
idea that God is in His glorious temple and is worthy of 
the adoration and praise of His creatures. The ancient 
pagans could see in all the natural objects which sur- 
rounded them motion, activity, life, order, harmony and 
beauty, which they attributed to the influence of different 
divinities, and thus was formed their polytheistic belief, 
which was refined, elevated and beautified by the skillful 
production of the architect, painter and sculptor, but more 
than all by the creative genius of the poet. 

The Hebrews looked upon nature wich the eye of a 
nobler faith. They did not understand the natural laws 
and principles which the investigations of modern scientists 


have so largely discovered, but they believed that all the 
varied objects of nature were connected by a general plan 
and were under the constant control of an Omniscient, 
Omnipresent and Omnipotent Being, the sovereign of 
their nation and their personal God. 

If we will take a rapid survey of the land of the He- 
brews we will find that it was possessed of that peculiar 
combination of natural objects and historic associations 
favorable to high poetic development. No where was 
there a country on the earth which had a more delightful 
climate and presented a scenery more grand, beautiful 
and picturesque than the ancient land of Palestine. Its 
mountains, hills and plains of different elevations, and its 
ravines and valleys gave it the diversity of temperature 
and the varied vegetation of nearly every clime, from 
perpetual winter to the luxuriance of tropical summer. 
In the time of the ancient Hebrews the country was 
exceedingly fertile, and was covered with forests and 
groves of cedar, olive, myrtle, palm, terebinth, oak and 
accacia and various other trees, furnishing cool and refresh- 
ing shades, and they were musical with birds of sweetest 
song and richest plumage, and were fragrant with breezes 
that bore on their odoriferous wings the balmy treasures 
•of the East. 

The country was also in a state of high cultivation. 
Agriculture was not only the principle business of the 
people, but it was to them a delightful occupation. The 
fertile . valleys, plains and hillsides smiled beneath the 
hand of careful and intelligent industry, and filled the 
barns and storehouses with plenty. Even rocky ridges 
and deep declivities were clothed with fruitfulness and 
verdure by the cheerful and diligent culture of the hus- 
bandman. In the midst of these rich fields, green pas- 
tures, blooming gardens and fruitful vineyards and olive 
groves, there were shady glens and picturesque ravines 
where nature reigned in undisturbed dominion, and dis- 


played in varied forms her wild luxuriant beauties, inviting" 
the toil-worn and weary to quietude and repose. 

Palestine was indeed a paradise land. It was surrounded 
by mountains, deserts and seas — the fortresses which 
Jehovah had placed as defences to guard the sacred herit- 
age. It also abounded with perennial springs and clear 
sweet brooks and rills that ran among the valleys and the 
hills, and it bloomed with many-colored wild flowers, 
those little but eloquent messengers of God, those gentle 
children of the morning light bearing fragrant censers 
jewelled with the sunshine and the dew. 

Natural causes produced an atmosphere more trans- 
parent than that of Italy, which gave a crysteline lustre 
to the azure skies and a clearer radiance to the orient sun, 
and at night made the stars appear like gleaming " isles 
of light" in " a deep blue ocean hung on high," or to the 
more spiritual fancy, like oriel windows in the sapphire 
dome of heaven, emitting the effulgence of the inner 
celestial glory. 

Although Palestine was so highly favored with the 
beauty, magnificence and rich bounty of nature, it was 
not exempt from those various natural, causes which in 
other lands produce feelings of awe and terror and in- 
spire sublime poetic thoughts and imagery. The Hebrews 
often felt the convulsive throes of the earthquake, saw the 
fierce and glittering lightning and heard the deep-voiced 
thunder as it marshaled the dread cohorts of the storm. 

They witnessed the devastations of the whirlwinds 
and of the turbid torrents that rushed madly from the 
hills over the fertile valleys. Swarms of locusts desolated 
their vineyards and fruitful fields; beasts of prey prowled 
around the folds and pastures of their flocks and herds; 
and " the pestilence that walketh in darkness and wasteth 
at noonday" sometimes filled their homes with suffering 
and sorrow. On the Southwestern border of the land 
was the gloomy sea that ever reminded them of the sinful 

8 4 

cities of the plain and Jehovah's terrific judgment. Around 
it was a desolate wilderness, filled with overhanging" 
precipices, rocky pinnacles and deep and dark gorges — fit 
symbols of the valley and shadow of death. We know 
that from such scenes, occurences and objects the Hebrew 
bards derived some of their sublimest thoughts and many 
of their most striking similes and metaphors. 

We will now briefly describe some of the most promi- 
nent features and scenes of the country which God selected, 
enriched and adorned as the home of His Chosen People. 
There was Mount Tabor, rising like a monarch among 
the fertile hills of Galilee, crowned with evergreen verdure 
and mantled with graceful vines. At its foot was Es- 
draelon, the battle-ground of nations, spreading like a vast 
embroidered carpet fresh from nature's loom, and sur- 
rounded with the amphitheatre of the blue mountains of 
Israel. To the north was Lebanon with its towering 
cedars, forming the pillared palaces of the storm, and 
down its rocky sides in continuous currents were flowing 
clear, cool and glittering streams from glacier fountains. 
Just beyond a deep, broad and fertile valley, filled with 
splendid cities and enriched by skillful- cultivation, stood 
Mount Hermon, 

" Whose head in wintry grandeur towers, 

And whitens with eternal sleet, 
While summer, in a vale of flowers, 

Is sleeping rosy at his feet." 

From its summit were seen the giant structures of 
Hazor, the wild and rugged mountain pass of Hamath, 
and the far famed rivers of Damascus, beautifying and 
refreshing a garden plain resting like an island of verdure 
in an ocean desert. On the north-western border of 
Palestine was sweet and dear Genesareth. With lavish 
beauty nature seemed to have adorned her for her hal- 
lowed history. Sometimes she reposed in waveless calm 
and brightly smiled as she received the warm, loving kiss 
of the sun, and with silver-like mirror reflected in mingled 


tints of saphire, emerald and gold, images of the green 
mountains and blue unfathomable skies. Then her gently 
swelling billows joined in the sports of the playful winds, 
and then she writhed in agony and rage when her peaceful 
realms were invaded by the fierce legions of the tempest. 
Through her bosom flowed the sacred Jordan, so mem- 
orable in Hebrew history. It, too, had its varying moods. 
Sometimes swollen into a torrent by the melting snows of 
Hermon it swept in rolling tides over the adjacent valley, 
then in smooth and limpid current it glided in musical 
gladness beneath the shadowing palms and by the verdant 
and blooming shores, and then in joyous freedom rushed 
along the winding rapids and leaped in thundering cascades 
of foaming splendors. 

Beyond were the stately oaks and the extended pas- 
tures of Bashan; the prosperous cities and balmy groves 
of Gilead; the lofty summit of Nebo — the mount of glo- 
rious vision and the sepulchre of the great lawgiver, and 
there the dark, stern mountains of Moab stood like grim 
and relentless sentinels over the gloomy grave of the 
sinful cities of the plain. To the south the mountains of 
Edom, indented with their rocky peaks the blue rim of 
the horizon and overlooked that " great and terrible 
wilderness" which had been the scene of so many as- 
tounding miracles, and the place of Israel's long wander- 
ing and sufferings before they reached "the goodly land" 
of plenty and repose. In nearer vision and beautified by 
contrast were the hills and vales of Judah, undulating 
like the waves of ocean, clothed with the fruitfulness and 
verdure of a genial clime, covered with bleating flocks 
and lowing herds, where the lilies of the valley bloomed 
by perennial fountains, where grew in purple clusters the 
luscious grapes of Eshcol, and where the sweetest honey 
was ever dripping from the fissures of the rocks. Amidst 
these scenes of pastoral beauty and picturesque loveli- 
ness rose Jerusalem, *' The Holy City," radiant with 


architectural splendors, surrounded by blooming gardens 
and embowered in groves of the richest foliage, conse- 
crated by so many glorious memories and hopes, and 
encircled by the sacred mountains, the poetic emblems 
of Jehovah's protecting presence. To the west was the 
solemn-sounding and mysterious sea, spreading beneath 
cloudless skies far beyond the limits of vision, burnished 
with the golden light of the orient sun, and ever rolling 
its restless waves upon the shores where bloomed the 
"Roses of Sharon" and smiled the green pastures and 
rich gardens of Carmel. 

In every part of this beautiful, luxuriant and sacred 
land there were terraced slopes covered with thriving 
villages, towns and cities, and quiet hamlets and cottages 
nestled in fertile valleys beneath shadowy hills — all the 
happy homes of a people rejoicing in the blessings of 
health, plenty and freedom. 

This was the " Land of Promise," more beautiful than 
a poet's or painter's brightest dream, for it was blessed by 
the smile and hallowed by the special beneficence of 
Jehovah. What land so meet a nurse for poetic child? 


History and Traditions of Paradise. The Sab- 
bath. The Manners and Customs of the 

We concluded our last lecture with a brief description 
of the Land of Promise. From this subject the transition 
is easy and natural to the consideration of the influence 
exerted upon the Hebrews by the history and belief of 

Among all the ancient pagan nations there existed a 
traditionary idea of a lost Paradise. This idea seemed to 
pervade the whole earth like an invisible seraph from 
Eden, breathing sweet harmonies and filling the human 
heart with shadowy visions of the distant past, when pri- 
meval man lived in a condition of simplicity innocence, 
contentment and blissful repose; in a home of abounding 
plenty and exquisite picturesque beauty; always bright 
with serene summer skies and balmy with delicious odors; 
where existence required no toil, and life was unmarred by 
disappointment and sorrow, and was not darkened by ex- 
pectations of death and the gloom of the grave. 

This idea was largely intermingled with the early his- 
tory, traditions and religious beliefs of the various nations 
of antiquity, and was a fruitful germ of their poetry and 
art. It gave rise to the beautiful fables of the golden age, 
and of the gardens of the Hesperides, and numerous 
other myths with which genius enriched the immortal 
pa^es of classic literature. 

If we had no truthful history of Paradise we might 
readily conclude that an idea so universally prevalent was 


derived from some reality which existed in prehistoric 
ages, and was not a mere i4eal conception of the human 
mind. If, then, an idea transmitted by tradition through 
the revolutions of centuries and enveloped in the shadows 
of fable had such suggestive and creative influence upon 
the literature of so many different nations we may well 
imagine that the Mosaic account of the garden of Eden, 
which was implicitly believed by the Hebrews to be not 
only a truthful but a sacred narrative, must have highly 
excited and developed their imaginative faculties. They 
were truly Orientals, the descendants of Shem, and pos- 
sessed in a high degree the characteristics of that 
susceptible and imaginative race who sought habitations 
towards the rising sun, and who in idolatry worshiped the 
shining heavenly hosts. 

Sweet to the aged and care-worn man are the remem- 
brances of childhood days that awaken new pulses of life 
in his feebly throbbing heart and bring a light of joy to 
his eyes enfeebled with age and dimmed by tears. Sweet 
to the erring and friendless outcast are the bright visions 
that visit him in dreams and carry him back over sorrow- 
ing years to a happy home of innocence, purity and love. 
Sweet to the exile are memories of the fatherland from 
which he had wandered far away over the mountains and 
the seas. But sweeter, dearer, holier to the pious Hebrew 
were the memories of Eden, the beautiful and sacred land 
of purity, plenty and repose — the sinless home of his first 
parents, where they had dwelt in innocence and bliss in 
frequent communion with Jehovah and the angels. It 
was not only a source of holy memories, but it was a 
fountain of poetic inspiration, from which flowed a crystal 
Pactolus enriched with golden sands. To us the glories 
of the earthly Eden are dimmed by the more effulgent 
light that beams from the Gospel and gives us brighter 
faith visions of the heavely home. To the early Hebrews 
these sweet and hallowing memories of a lost Paradise, 

8 9 

together with the promise of a Messiah were only faintly 
suggestive of a future home of the soul. 

Although the teachings of the earlier books of the 
Old Testament on this subject are dim, shadowy and 
typical, yet the New Testament distinctly shows us how 
the ancient Hebrews understood their own sacred writings 
in regard to a future existence. With the aid of the New 
Testament we are able to comprehend the import of the 
ceremonial types and symbolic images of the Old Testa- 
ment dispensation, which prefigured the doctrines of the 
atonement, redemption, regeneration and a blessed im- 
mortality. At first these great truths were seen only in 
the dim twilight, and in the after days of the prophets 
and Psalmists they increased into the brighter radiance 
of the dawn, and then burst into the effulgent splendor 
of the morning, when Christ rose from the dead and 
" brought life and immortality to light" through the 
Gospel, which has irradiated the world with the glorious 
day of Christianity. 

Shadowy and dim as were the conceptions of the He- 
brews of that religion which beams in the fullness of 
light and purity from the New Testament, yet they were 
highly suggestive of poetic thought. They inspired Job 
with some of his sublimest rhapsodies, they were the 
themes of many of the most glorious Psalms, and often 
glowed with peculiar brightness in the lyric raptures of 
the prophets. They cheered the Israelites in captivity, 
and were the Shechinah glory of the second temple. 
They were carried by the Jews to all parts of the Alex- 
andrian empire, and influenced in some degree the 
literature, philosophy and even the religions of the an- 
cient nations. The doctrine of the immortality of the 
soul was taught in the schools of Athens, Alexandria 
and Antioch, and it was incorporated into the philosophy 
and sublime monotheistic faith of Zoroaster. Every- 
where and in every language it found a response in the 


human soul and gave inspiration to the highest poetic 

In this department of religious literature the minds 
and hearts of Christian poets have been illumined by the 
inspiration of Christian faith. In the whole range of 
human contemplation there is no subject so suggestive of 
beautiful thoughts and pure and holy emotions as the 
Christian hope of Heaven. Around this hope cluster all 
the pure joys of life, the sweet memories of the past, and 
the earnest aspirations of the soul. With this hope, life 
is not a continuity of sorrow and care, a dreary funeral 
march to the grave, but a solemn and pleasant pilgrimage 
to a better land, the home of unending love, unalloyed 
bliss, exceeding beauty and everlasting rest. There with 
friends and loved ones, with saints and martys, with 
Apostles, Prophets, Psalmists and Patriarchs, with Cher- 
ubim and Seraphim, with Jesus and with God the Father, 
the redeemed souls can enter upon an eternal life of 
progressive development, where, ever beholding the glory 
of the Lord, they are changed into the same image from 
glory to glory. 

The Sabbath is properly regarded as an earthly type 
of Heaven, and we will now proceed to consider the 
influence of that sacred institution upon Hebrew develop- 
ment. The holy observance of the Sabbath by the 
Hebrews contributed materially to their moral and intel- 
lectual advancement, and to the preservation and elevation 
of their national poetry. This institution was established 
in Eden when primeval man was sinless and perfect in 
physical and moral organization. Even then divine wis- 
dom and goodness deemed such an institution necessary 
for the welfare and happiness of man. It seems to have 
floated like a waif from that beautiful morning land of its 
birth down the dark stream of the ages, through the 
antediluvian period and the times of the patriarchal 


When God selected and set apart a peculiar people as 
the special depositaries of His sacred oracles, and formed 
them into a nation, He reaffirmed this divine appoint- 
ment, and defined and imposed duties and obligations 
in the Decalogue proclaimed from Sinai. •'From that 
time to the present day the Sabbath has been more or 
less observed, and has conferred numberless civil, do- 
mestic and religious blessings upon mankind. Human 
experience has shown that one day in seven for repose 
and especial spiritual exercises is as essential for the 
healthful, physical, moral and intellectual development 
of man as food is necessary for the sustenance of the 
body. Individuals and nations who fail to enjoy this 
divine blessing, and to obey this imperative law of 
nature, are subject to sure demoralization and decline. 

The Jews after the captivity became a nation of 
Puritans, and made the Sabbath a day of penance, self- 
denial and gloom by the ritualistic formulas and cere- 
monials required in its observance. 

Among the old Hebrews it was a cheerful and happy 
day, spent in physical rest from daily toil, in duties of 
charity and mercy, in joyous thanksgivings to God, and 
in the pleasant association of friends and neighbors. 

Those who were conveniently near witnessed the un- 
usually splendid and imposing services of the sanctuary, 
and those who were too remote for this high privilege 
gathered round the prophets and elders and heard recitals 
of the wondrous history and hopes of their nation. 
These assemblies were usually enlivened and cheered 
with instrumental music, songs and the sacred dance. 
All their observances of this sacred day tended to excite 
pleasing and elevating emotions that made melody in 
their hearts. Thus one day in seven their physical ener- 
gies were refreshed and their moral natures elevated and 
spiritualized, and they learned to associate ideas of the 
holy and the beautiful which formed the true spirit of poetry. 

9 2 

We may in some degree form an idea of the hallowing 
and elevating influence of the Sabbath upon this ancient 
and imaginative people by considering the effect which 
the Christian Sabbath has produced upon the advancement 
of modern civilization and the enjoyments of mankind. 

In the Apostolic age the first day of the week, the day 
of the Resurrection, was ordained as the Christian Sab- 
bath, and was righteously observed by the primitive 
Church in the time of its simplicity, purity and holiness. 
During the mediaeval apostasy of the Romish hierarchy 
the Sabbath was observed, not as a holy day, but as a 
holiday, and was generally spent in pompous displays 
and in festivity and mirth. Even the early Reformers 
did not regard the religious observance of the Sabbath 
as obligatory upon Christians, as they believed it to be 
an institution which had passed away with the Jewish 
dispensation. But the Puritans who gave civil and re- 
ligious liberty to England restored the sanctity of the 
Sabbath and established it as an institution indispensable 
to pure Christianity. The rigid and unnecessary ob- 
servances which they imposed have passed away before a 
more enlightened and spiritual faith. The Christian 
Sabbath since the days of the Long Parliament has moved 
on with English constitutional freedom and enlightenment 
in their rapid expansion and advancement, and it is now 
regarded by Protestants in Great Britain and the United 
States as a divine and beneficent institution. We feel 
the inspirations of the Sabbath consecrated by the holiest 
memories and associations and illumined with glorious 
hopes. The tones of the Church bells ring out so joyously, 
waking the softest and purest melodies of the heart, as 
they summon the old and the young, the rich and the 
poor, to enter the gates of the Lord's house with thanks- 
giving and His courts with praise, and there from holy 
altars re-kindle in their hearts the fires of faith, hope and 


The Sabbath sunshine seems to fall with soft and hal- 
lowing radiance upon the quiet churchyard where sleep 
the loved and pious dead, and glows like celestial light 
irradiating the tomb. It reminds the Christian heart of 
those bright hopes that make the grave the shining gate- 
way of heaven where welcoming angels receive the 
redeemed spirit and bear it to that blissful home " where 
the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest." 

The Hebrew Sabbath was commemorative of the per- 
fected work of creation. The Christian Sabbath is com- 
memorative of a far grander event, the perfected work of 
redemption, when the bright hope of immortality was 
assured to man by the resurrection of our Saviour. One 
was especially sanctified for the adoration of sinless man 
in Eden, and was afterwards established as a day of rest 
and holiness for the chosen people. The other is an 
emblem of the day of everlasting rest and praise of the 
redeemed in heaven. In both we find elements sugges- 
tive of the sweetest and most sublime poetry. 

Among the Hebrews the Sabbath was not only a reli- 
gious institution but exerted a marked and peculiar 
influence upon their civil and political economy. It gave 
rise to other Sabbatical observances. Every seventh year 
the land had rest from culture and kept a " Sabbath for 
the Lord." During that year the spontaneous productions 
of the fields and vineyards were dedicated by law to the 
use of the poor and the sojourning stranger. Then all 
debts were suspended, all secular business discontinued 
and the beasts of burden and the slaves had release from 
toil. The unusual productiveness of the previous year 
filled their barns and storehouses with overflowing abund- 
ance, and every heart was made glad with the enjoyment 
of plenty, which was a # special blessing from the Lord. 

The seventh sabbatical year was the great year of 
Jubilee, when freedom from debts and slavery was pro- 
claimed throughout the whole land, and every Hebrew 


was restored to his patrimonial inheritance, and the exile 
returned with songs and rejoicing to the home which he 
had left in poverty and sorrow. This time was looked for 
with longing expectation and with the fondest and dearest 
hopes by all who were saddened by sorrow and misfortune, 
or oppressed with poverty and slavery. The Jubilee was 
the birth period of a new domestic, tribal and national 
life, and the whole year was spent in festivity and rejoic- 
ing. On the tenth day Of the seventh month — the great 
Day of Atonement — the silver trumpets of the sanctuary 
were blown beside the brazen altar to proclaim the year 
of Jubilee. The sounds were heard by Levites placed at 
convenient distances on elevated positions, who also blew 
signal trumpets. Thus the clear and ringing notes of 
the trumpets of Jubilee, started from the sanctuary, and 
seemed to leap from hill top to hill top waking gladsome 
echos among the valleys and carrying a joyous message 
to every heart and home in Israel. I will not further con- 
sider the objects of this institution or the influences which 
it exerted upon the religious, social and political welfare 
of the people. It was designed by God for wise and 
beneficent purposes, and greatly promoted the perpetuity, 
prosperity and happiness of the people. It must have 
had great influence in developing the purest and noblest 
virtues. A year so full of blessings must have inspired 
feelings of the profoundest thankfulness and gratitude to 
God, and the highest love and devotion to country, and 
filled the mind with pleasing and elevated thoughts that 
often swelled into the glad and beautiful language of 
poetry. The sweetest and holiest emotions that ever 
thrill the heart are those that spring from love for God, 
for country and for home, and they have produced rich 
and immortal poetry in every literature. These influences 
and emotions operated powerfully upon the Hebrews, 
and the effects can be traced through their whole history 
to their latest posterity. 


The manners and customs of the Hebrews in social and 
domestic life furnish strong evidence of their moral and 
intellectual advancement and poetic temperament. They 
were the most kindhearted, polite and accomplished 
people of their times. They were remarkably fond of 
social intercourse, and their manners were always frank, 
amiable and refined. Their domestic life was full of 
parental, filial and conjugal love and tenderness. The 
patriarchal customs of their ancestors which they ob- 
served, prepared them in early life for the faithful and 
affectionate observance of the fifth commandment of the 
Decalogue, and no people in any age more fully venerated 
the crown of gray hairs and honored the face of the old 
man. Like all oriental races they showed a courteous 
and liberal hospitality to strangers. They were kind and 
generous to the poor and friendless and exhibited the 
most sympathetic benevolence to widows and the father- 
less. They were lenient and humane to their servants 
and even their domestic animals were objects of their 
gentle and protecting care. In their ordinary home life 
they were frugal, cheerful and industrious, and not eager 
and grasping after gain and wealth. They were, however, 
fond of festive enjoyments and at such times were dis- 
posed to indulge in pomp and magnificence. The toilets 
of the Hebrew ladies on such occasions were especially 
costly and elegant, and this feminine taste had increased 
to such extravagance in the days of the prophets as to 
call forth their expostulations and severest censures. In 
this place I will refer only to the social and domestic 
festivals of the Hebrews in the course of ordinary life. 

A marriage was always celebrated with beautiful and 
appropriate ceremonies. The procession from the home 
of the bride to the house of the bridegroom was witnessed 
by a large crowd of kindred, friends and neighbors, and 
was peculiarly attractive and imposing. It was led by a 
band of well trained musicians who made the soft evening 

9 6 

air vibrate with the blended melodies of instrumental 
music and joyous song. The bridegroom was accom- 
panied by a number of companions of his own age, and 
all were dressed in princely elegance. Young and beau- 
tiful virgins, arrayed in costly wedding garments, sur- 
rounded the blushing bride, and bore in their hands 
brightly burning lamps filled with fragrant oil and shining 
like a halo of stars in the gathering twilight. The long 
flowing hair of the bride was surmounted by a nuptial 
crown — achaplet of fresh evergreens and odorous flowers — 
arranged by a mother's hand. Her raiment of needle 
work was richly embroidered with threads of gold and pre- 
cious stones, was perfumed with myrrh, cassia and aloes, 
and was bound with a jeweled girdle. Over all hung in 
quivering translucent folds a snow white veil, enshrining in 
purity her graceful form and her youthful innocence and 
loveliness. As the procession approached the house of the 
bridegroom another company of virgins, adorned with rich 
festal costumes, came forth in the airy and graceful 
movements of the dance, bearing garlands of flowers and 
swinging newly trimmed and shining lamps, and with 
the gladsome songs of hail and welcome they mingled 
in the advancing train and entered into the brightly 
lighted hall of the marriage supper. Such a scene of joy 
and beauty must have charmed all beholders and made 
their hearts jubilant with tender emotions and melody. 

The marriage feast usually lasted for seven days, but 
its innocent gladness and merriment never resulted in 
sinful indulgences and exhausting dissipation. Marriage 
is often referred to by the Psalmists and the Prophets, 
and was the subject of the beautiful " song of songs," 
written by the wise king of Israel. In a subsequent age 
it was especially honored and sanctified by the first 
miracle of our Saviour, and furnished illustrations in 
several of His touching and instructive parables. The 
marriage union was used as an appropriate symbol to 


represent the loving and tender union of Christ with His 

The birth of children was always an occasion of festivity, 
but the birthday of the first-born son was usually cele- 
brated with the highest munificence and gladness, for the 
hearts of the parents were filled with thankfulness and 
hoty joy, as the event was associated with glorious 
Messianic hopes. The enjoyments of the domestic fes- 
tivals of the Hebrews were not confined to the immediate 
kindred and friends of a family but were extended with a 
generous hospitality to all neighbors and even strangers. 
In the peaceful and prosperous days of the commonwealth 
and monarchy there was scarcely a week in any commu- 
nity that was not enlivened with some festive scene, and 
such exciting demonstrations of joyfulness must have 
inspired the imagination and produced songs of love and 
happiness which have passed away with those olden times. 

The festive scenes of primitive life contributed greatly 
to poetic development in other nations. They seem to 
have furnished the seed germs of poetry from which 
national literatures have sprung. These inspiring influ- 
ences can be distinctly traced in the literary remains of 
the Greeks and Romans; they still have a living power in 
Italy and Germany and sunny, joyous France, and they 
produced much of the ballad minstrelsy of Scotland. 
They have enshrined in song memories of the halcyon 
days of merry old England; and when we hear the sweet 
minstrel melodies of Erin that once sounded at festive 
boards and in cottage homes in that land of song and 
old romance, we can but regret that 

" The harp that once through Tara's halls 

The soul of music shed, 
Now hangs as mute on Tara's walls 

As if that soul were fled." 

The season of harvest, that lasted seven weeks, from 
the Passover to Pentecost, was a continuous festival in 


the whole land. The joyous songs of cheerful reapers, 
merry maidens and gleeful children were heard in every 
field and filled the air with delightsome melody. The 
grateful poor gathered the corners of the fields and the 
gleanings among the sheaves, and with gladsome voices 
joined in the "Song of the Harvest Home." The dusty 
threshing floor presented a scene of hilarity and mirth, 
and even the unmuzzled ox, in the contentment of ap- 
peased appetite, with nimble tread performed his arduous 

In the fall of the year came the vintage, which lasted 
about two months. The vineyards resounded with songs 
and instrumental music, and the cheerful laborers, without 
feelings of weariness, gathered the purple clusters and 
trod the foaming winepresses. The times of the harvest 
and vintage were also seasons of universal thankfulness 
and gratitude to Jehovah for His bounties; and the hearts 
of the people, rejoicing at the prospects of plenty, over- 
flowed with love and kindness towards each other. 

I know that I need not refer to the abundant evidence 
furnished in the history of literature to show the influence 
which rural and pastoral scenes has exerted in developing 
the poetic genius of a people. Such scenes have ever 
been the fruitful sources of inspiration for the poet. I 
may here appropriately quote the language of Emmerson, 
addressed to the poet: "Wherever snow falls, or water 
flows, or birds fly; wherever day and night meet in the 
twilight; wherever the blue heaven is hung with clouds 
or sown with stars; wherever are forms with transparent 
boundaries; wherever are outlets in celestial space; 
wherever is danger and awe and love, there is beauty as 
plenteous as rain shed for thee, and though thou should 
walk the world over thou shall not be able to find a con- 
dition inopportune and ignoble." 

Many of the Hebrew people had their homes in walled 
towns and cities, that they might afford mutual protection 


and have means of safe and ready defence against the 
predatory incursions of robbers and marauders from 
neighboring peoples. This condition of mutual depend- 
ence tended greatly to strengthen the bonds of social 
and political union, and furnished opportunities of frequent 
association which fostered the kindly feelings of brother- 
hood and increased general intelligence. In times of 
peace the entire population of every city met morning 
and evening at the gates. This was usually the time and 
place of social gatherings and of business transactions; 
and it was also the time and place when the ordinary 
city courts were held. The judges were always present 
and ready to hear, adjust and determine disputes and 
legal controversies between citizens. This convenient, 
cheap and speedy administration of justice prevented 
long, vexatious and expensive litigation, and preserved 
the harmony and good order of the community. 

On a cool, bright and balmy morning, as the refreshed, 
cheerful and industrious people went out of the gates to 
labor in the adjacent gardens, fields, vineyards and 
pasture grounds, they exchanged kindly greetings and 
many a pleasant look and word. In the evening, as they 
returned from their daily toil to seek the rest and refresh- 
ment of home, they paused at the gate to witness and 
often to participate in the pleasures of social intercourse. 

In that orient clime there was no time that was so full 
of calm joyousness and exquisite beauty as the evening, 
when the sun in regal splendor and with parting benisons 
was closing the portals of the day. The heat and burden 
of toil was ended, and man and all nature felt the soft 
and lulling influences of the mystic hour. Gorgeous skies 
were resting on the purple hills and the verdant landscape 
was burnished with golden light that was slowly fading 
into the mellow, then dim, then dusky twilight. Then 
the soft evening air, as it whispered lullabies in liquid 
melodies, was sweetly redolent with the breath of the 


clustering vines; and the sleeping flowers and the wild 
thyme were giving out their fragrance to the dew. With 
gentle steps the bleating flocks and lowing herds were 
seeking their accustomed folds; the birds had sung their 
vesper hymns, and with twittering joy were nestling in 
their leafy homes; the plains and valleys, near and far, 
curtained with the mysteries of shadow, were sinking into 
solemn stillness and repose; and the timidly twinkling 
stars were marshaling for their serene march over the 
celestial fields, and were shedding their soft and tremulous 
light over the slumberous earth. There was no time 
when the heart would swell with sweeter, purer and holier 
emotions, and the mind be filled with higher thoughts and 
brighter fancies. The associations of the Hebrews at such 
times and under such circumstances must have greatly 
advanced their mental, moral and spiritual culture and 
developed their poetic genius. 


Political Freedom. National Unity. The 
Religion of the Hebrews. 

The political freedom of the Hebrews may well be 
considered as an important element in their poetic devel- 
opment. The renowned freedom of Greece and Rome 
exerted a highly developing influence upon their literature 
and civilization, although it was only enjoyed by a small 
class of citizens, while the great mass of the people were 
sunk in poverty and slavery. Those nations never recog- 
nized the facts that personal freedom is the gift of God, 
the common birthright of all mankind, and that all just 
government is founded upon the consent of the governed. 

The government established by Moses was a theocratic 
republic, founded upon an express covenant freely made 
by the people with Jehovah; and all Hebrews were in- 
vested with equal civil and political rights, and had a 
representative voice in the enactment of laws regulating 
their civil policy. The several tribes were independent 
republics, and each had a local government with an execu- 
tive, legislative and judicial department, administered by 
officers freely chosen by the people. These independent 
republics were formed into a federal nation by a general 
government which regulated the duties and relations of 
the several tribes, and was paramount in its powers over 
all matters pertaining to the general welfare. The system 
of local and appellate courts established by Moses were 
remarkably well adapted for a convenient, cheap, speedy 
and impartial administration of justice. 


The Hebrews were the first free nation of antiquity, and 
both in their commonwealth and monarchy established 
and observed those enlightened principles of civil liberty, 
constitutional government and social order which have 
entered so largely into the governments of modern 
Christian nations, and which have been so splendidly de- 
veloped in England and America by the Anglo-Saxon race. 

The Hebrews were not only freemen in whom rested the 
sovereignty of the State, but they were all landowners 
and freeholders, and their estates were so entailed as to 
descend in perpetual succession. Under the Mosaic laws 
lands could not be aliened for a longer time than the 
next ensuing year of Jubilee, and were then restored to 
the original owners or their heirs. This law of tenure 
prevented both extreme poverty and overgrown wealth, 
and greatly attached the people to the country in which 
they had permanent homes, associated with memories 
of their ancestors and with the hopes of their posterity, 
and made them interested in preserving public order and 
maintaining the supremacy of the laws of the State. 

On their small estates the people had to exercise fru- 
gality and industry to obtain a comfortable subsistence, 
and this general necessity tended to elevate the dignity 
of labor and give to every citizen the proud and ennobling 
feeling of personal independence. No system of laws 
upon this subject was ever devised by human wisdom so 
much in harmony with the general objects and purposes 
of the law-giver and better calculated to develop a free, 
enlightened, virtuous and patriotic people. 

The enjoyment of civil and religious liberty seems to 
inspire the noblest emotions of the human heart, to 
expand the intellect, to give breadth and grandeur to the 
imagination, and is the very life-spring of genius. The 
brightest pages in history are those which glow with the 
deeds and fame of the heroes and martyrs of intellectual, 
civil and religious freedom. They were the great leaders 


of all progress in civilization, and but for the light which 
their spirits shed the world would still be in the darkness 
of ignorance, superstition and barbarism. The spirit of 
freedom kindled the fires of genius which have illumined 
the ages. It gave courage, endurance, energy and power 
to the heroes of Thermopylae, Marathon and Salamis. 
It guided the skilful chisel of the sculptor as he wrought 
the matchless and immortal productions of art. It woke 
the highest notes of the Grecian lyre and poured the 
splendors of eloquence around the Acropolis of Athens 
and the Senate Chamber and Forum of Rome. 

We will not follow the brilliant achievements of the 
spirit of freedom through the modern world, when, con- 
joined with the spirit of Christianity, they seemed to rise 
like a new sun from a dark moral and intellectual chaos, 
calling into life the slumbering energies of man, and rising 
slowly but surely to that zenith where it will cover the 
earth with the vivifying light of peace, liberty, love and 
holiness, even "as the waters cover the sea." 

The spirit of freedom existed in a remarkable degree 
among the ancient Hebrews, and was greatly intensified 
by their religious faith and their peculiar situation among 
the nations. They were surrounded by the great oriental 
despotism, were in the direct line of ancient war, conquest 
and commerce; and by actual observation and experience 
they were acquainted with the horrors and demoralizing 
influences of subjugation and slavery. They were in the 
times of their national power and freedom a remarkably 
brave people, and in many of their contests the odds were 
greatly against them, and the preservation of their nation- 
ality and free institutions for nearly a thousand years is 
one t>f the great miracles of history. They had, during 
the long period of their national existence, abundant 
cause to believe that the Everlasting Arms were around 
them, and that the flaming sword of the Cherubim guarded 
their hallowed land; and in their fervid imaginations they 


could well call Jehovah their strength and shield and high 
tower. Great and glorious facts, and not fancies, were 
the sources of their love of freedom and country, and the 
inspirations of their sublime poetry. 

This love of freedom and country — the most striking 
political characteristic of the Hebrews — continued during 
the whole of their national existence. How beautifully 
was it exhibited, even in captivity, when they sang in 
words that glowed with patriotism and glittered with tears: 

" By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when 
we remembered Zion. * * * * * * 

If I forget thee, O, Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. 

If I do not remember thee let my tongue cleave to the roof of my 
mouth, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy." 

The Jews, from the time of the Babylonish captivity 
until finally subjugated by Roman power, never showed 
the humble and submissive spirits of slaves. Under 
Persian, Greek and Roman rule they were generally treated 
with more liberality and kindness than other conquered 
nations, and, with the exception of the oppressions of 
Antiochus Epiphanes, they were allowed to observe their 
ceremonial and national laws and customs. They were 
conservative in their natures, obedient to just laws, and 
opposed to revolutions for trivial causes. But the exercise 
of any despotic authority which threatened to overthrow 
or materially change their religious institutions, at once 
kindled into flame the smouldering embers of religious 
zeal, liberty and patriotism, and without counting odds 
or the consequences they rushed to arms and fought with 
desperate valor. No pages in human history are more 
brilliant with deeds of sublime endurance and heroic valor 
than those which record the struggles of the Maccabaean 
brothers for the altars and tenets of their religious faith 
and the land of their fathers. 

In the memorable seige of Jerusalem under Titus, and 
in the awful finale at Masada, the Jews exhibited a burning 
patriotism, lofty heroism and self-devotion never equalled 


in terific sublimity in all the horrid tragedies of war and 
the overthrow of nations. The history of two centuries 
taught Hadrian that while their nation had an organized 
existence the Jews never could be made willing and sub- 
missive subjects to the despotism of the Caesars; and he 
determined upon their extermination or complete disper- 
sion. The sorrows, misfortunes and oppressions of twenty 
centuries have not destroyed their national characteristics. 
Their spirits have never been subdued to the abject condi- 
tion of slavery, but they have always manifested hatred 
and scorn for their oppressors, and have borne the agonies 
of torture and the contumely of contempt with the sub- 
lime courage and endurance of martyrs. They have 
passed through more terrible ordeals than any other 
people, and they have come forth from every fiery furnace 
of persecution without even the smell of the flames upon 
the unchanged and unconsumed garments of their ancient 
faith. Feelings so deeply implanted and so indestructible, 
either by force or time, must have glowed with the 
grandest intensity and energy in the age of their national 
pride, power and glory, and kindled the highest poetic 

A spirit of national unity was a marked and distinguish- 
ing feature of the Hebrew nation. They were the chosen 
people of Jehovah, all the descendants of Abraham — the 
most venerable character in history — and were all heirs of 
the rich blessings and glorious hopes of that covenant 
which God made and so after reaffirmed to their great 
national fathers. They were continually reminded of this 
covenant by the rite of circumcision, and the dust of the 
earth and the sands of the seashore were emblems of their 
numerous posterity, and the glorious stars of heaven that 
every night shone above them symbolized the blessings 
which they were to shed over all the nations and races of 
coming ages. This covenant was the Magna Charta of 
their destiny, the vital principle of their civil and political 


institutions, mingled with all their history and illumined 
national and individual aspirations with the light of 
Messianic hope. In every subsequent age of their dis- 
persion this covenant made the Holy Land the sacred 
home of their hearts, and sustained their sorely tried and 
fainting spirts as they suffered centuries of wrong, oppres- 
sion, misfortune and disaster. 

This spirit of national unity was also kept in fresh and 
vigorous life by the requirements and observances of the 
ceremonial law. Three times in each year they were 
required to go up to the Sanctuary and participate in the 
celebration of the great national festivals. There they 
witnessed the solemn and imposing rites and ceremonies 
of their religious worship, and were forcibly reminded of 
the great events and scenes which illumined the annals 
of their race. These three great national festivals were 
peculiar to them as a people and were associated with 
ideas of liberty, prosperity and nationality under the care 
of an ever«watchfnl providence. 

The Passover was a memorial of the birthday of their 
freedom; the Pentecost celebrated the giving of the law, 
which organized them into a distinct and independent 
nation, and the Feast of Tabernacles reminded them of 
the blessings of liberty and kindly social intercourse which 
their forefathers enjoyed in the simple dwellings in the 
wilderness, which were ever beneath the light or shadow 
of Jehovah's presence. 

The Feast of Tabernacles was the last great annual 
festival. It came on the fifth day after the great Day of 
Atonement on which the sins of Israel were removed, and 
covenant relations with God were restored. It was also 
called the Feast of Ingathering, as it came at the end of 
the year, when all the harvests and fruits had been 
gathered in. With a sense of pardoned sin and with the 
prospect of plenty, it was a good time to give thanks and 
sing. Some of the most joyous Psalms were written for 


this occasion and the days of this feast were the most 
gladsome of all the year. This feast was also regarded 
as typical of the greater feast which God was preparing 
for his people in heaven at the final harvest at the end of 
the world; when all the work of earth would be done; 
when the fruits of toil and care and obedience would all 
be gathered in, and all trials and sorrows and sufferings 
would be over in the home of everlasting joy and rest. 

These festivals were celebrated with various sacrificial 
observances, with songs, with music and the sacred dance; 
and such assemblages were well calculated to keep alive 
their national patriotism; the fraternal relationship of the 
tribes, and their confidence and trust in Jehovah; and 
their imaginations were excited and illumined by the 
solemn and imposing ceremonies of the sanctuary, which 
were memorials of a glorious past and types of a higher 
and nobler destiny. 

We know that the Olympic Games were strong bonds 
of union among the States of Greece, and had great 
influence in developing the courage and physical energies, 
and the intellect and genius of that gifted and brilliant 
people. Like influences and results were produced by 
like causes in other ancient and modern nations, but no 
nation has ever existed which was so thoroughly and so 
permanently nationalized as the Hebrews. The "Scattered 
Nation," and its wild, roaming kinsmen of the desert, are 
the only peoples who have endured the storms of centuries, 
as long as the pyramids. 

We will now refer to the piety of the Hebrews as 
another powerful element in elevating their national 
culture. They were by far the most devout people of the 
ancient world, and their religious belief was the life 
breath of their nationality. The dream of Jacob at Bethel 
was a type of Hebrew spiritual life, and to their fervid 
fancies the mystic ladder was never withdrawn. In ardent 
faith they felt that hosts of angels were encamped around 


their dwellings and accompanied their journeyings, and 
sometimes they could hear divine footsteps in the mur- 
muring groves, and they believed that on the hills and 
mountains were horses and chariots of fire that guarded 
their sacred heritage. 

In all ages of the world and among all nations the idea 
of God has given the highest beauty and grandeur to 
human thought. This idea produced the splendid temples 
of antiquity, whose ruins still show the taste and elegance 
of the culture of the nations who reared them. The 
human mind has ever sought after God, recognizing Him as 
the great first cause of the life and energy that pervades the 
universe and fills it with harmony, beauty and beneficence. 
The most grand and sublime conceptions of every people 
are to be found in their religious belief. In the studio of 
the artist his grandest ideals are in some way connected 
with the great First Cause of symmetry and beauty. 

The Gothic structures of Mediaeval Europe, and the 
magnificent temples of more modern times, with their 
elevated arches and lofty spires, are representations of the 
aspirations of man after God. The Great Spirit of the 
American Indian tribes is the source of their most beautiful 
legends and superstitions, and of their richest language. 
The most barbarous nations, sunk to the lowest condition of 
degredation and debasement, have some noble conceptions 
of an unseen and powerful ruler. There seems to be an 
universal law of nature that prompts the human heart to 
seek to know something of the Infinite and to hold 
communion with Him in the language of poetry and prayer. 

The most beautiful authologies of the Greeks are their 
sacred songs, which glow with intense feelings and beautiful 
thought. Their mythology was the principle source of 
their poetry and art, which have so much refined the taste 
and enlarged and enriched the literary treasures of the 
world They had divinities for everything. The thunder 
was the angry voice of Jupiter on high Olympus, and the 


lightning the flash of his terrible thunderbolts. Their 
mountains were the thrones and their plains and valleys 
the council chambers, the battlefields and the habitations 
of the gods In every tree some Dryad was dwelling and 
Nymphs were ever pouring dew drops upon the flowers. 
On every stream the Naiads were singing and Apollo and 
the tuneful Muses were waking the echoes of every hill 
and vale with ethereal lyres. Far out on the shining seas 
the Nereids were giving music to the waves. The breath 
of ^Eolus was the storm that stirred into fury the seething 
billows which the Halcyones, with soft and soothing 
melodies, lulled into gentle slumbers. Every thing that 
was bright, joyous, musical and beautiful in nature was 
the gift or was under the care of some superhuman being 
in some way connected. with the immortals. Every house- 
hold had its tutelary divinities that sanctified the hearth- 
stone, guarded the cradle of infancy, guided the wayward 
footsteps of maturer years, and whispered of Elysium and 
the Isles of the Blessed to the aged and the dying. 

The mythology of the Greeks, although in some respects 
so fascinating and beautiful, presented many disgusting and 
shameful scenes; and many of their deities were guilty of 
horrid crimes and enormities and the most beastly vices 
ever practiced by degraded man. 

How completely does the sensuous polytheism of the 
Greeks sink into nothingness when compared with the 
sublime spiritual monotheism of the Hebrews. An 
uncreated God, as unity of infinite wisdom, power and 
immaculate purity and holiness, existing from everlasting 
to everlasting seated upon a throne in the heavens high 
and lifted up; clothed in garments of resplendent light, 
and crowned with ineffable glory and majesty; surrounded 
by myriads of angels and archangels. Cherubim and 
Seraphim, doing His will with gladness, and with faces 
veiled with their wings ever singing to the music of golden 
harps the lofty songs of eternal praise. With omniscient 


eye He read all the secrets of the present and the past 
and contemplated the coming events of the future; to 
Him even ages were not moments of time, and eternity 
but an unending now. He was also regarded as Omni- 
present and Omnipotent, not only dwelling in the heavens, 
but everwhere present and controlling every part of the 
illimitable universe and all created things, not as a 
pantheistic, animating and commingling element, but as 
a separate, independent, Supreme Creator and Governor. 
He spoke worlds into being by a word or the exercise of 
omnific will. He measured the waters in the hollow of 
His hand, meted out the heavens with the span, compre- 
hended the dust of the earth in a measure, weighed the 
mountains in scales and the hills in a balance. He shook 
the earth on her deep foundations so that the pillars 
thereof trembled, and " He toucheth the hills and they 
smoke." He guided the heavenly hosts in their unerring 
orbits. "He telleth the number of the stars. He calleth 
them all by their names." And yet amidst the grandest 
displays of His wisdom and power, He manifested His 
holiness, truth justice and benevolence; and while He 
would " by no means clear the guilty," He was " merciful 
and gracious, long suffering and abundant in goodness 
and truth." 

With the providential care of an All-Wise Father He 
watched and blessed the humblest creatures and works 
of His hand. " They all wait upon Him and He giveth 
them their meat in due season." He sendeth the springs 
into the valleys which ran among the hills and gave 
drink to the beasts of the field to quench their thirst. 
" He watereth the hills from His chambers," and freshens 
the verdure of the pastures for the cattle. He giveth 
habitations to the birds, and teacheth them to build their 
nests and sing among the branches. He filleth the trees 
with sap and maketh them rejoice and clap their hands. 
He made a home for the leviathan in the deep, wide sea 


that he might play among the waters. He distilled the 
sparkling dew and perfumed the breath of the morning. 
He clothed the flowers with exquisite beauty. 4 ' He 
giveth snow like wool; He seattereth the hoar frost like 
ashes." He fed the young ravens when they cried. " He 
made the high hills a refuge for the wild goats and the 
rocks for the conies." With what astonished and rapturous 
admiration did the Psalmist sing, " Yea, the sparrow 
hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, 
where she may lay her young; even Thine altars, O, Lord 
of Hosts, my King and my God." 

Without making full verbal quotations I have stated a 
few of the numerous ideas and expressions of the Hebrew 
bards as they looked forth upon the glories of nature. 
They did not observe the works of creation as natural 
philosophers, but contemplated them with the fervent 
and loving admiration of the soul. They regarded all the 
objects of nature as their kindred under the care of the 
same universal Father who with tender and beneficent 
love provided daily for the wants and welfare of his great 
family. Their poetry of nature appeals to the heart and 
understanding, as they combine beauty with truth and 
animate both with intense sympathetic feelings. 

The sublime and devout religious faith of the Hebrews 
was elevated and strengthened by the continual manifes- 
tations of Jehovah's presence. If they went astray He 
scourged them back to duty, and when they were obedient 
subjects, their corn and wine increased and their land was 
blessed with peace and abounded with plenty. To them 
the Tabernacle was Jehovah's earthly dwelling place and 
the magnificent Temple of Solomon made Jerusalem 
" The City of the Great King." 

The great and controlling influence of metropolitan 
cities can be distinctly traced in the history of all civilized 
nations. In them are concentrated the industry, wealth 
and the intellectual, moral and political energies of the 

I 12 

people, and are thus concentrated central forces that 
generate and regulate peculiar systems of civilization. 
This fact is so well established that I need not refer to 
the numerous instances presented in history. 

In the time of David Jerusalem was made the political 
and religious metropolis of the Hebrew State and became 
endeared to the people by many proud and patriotic 
associations, and was consecrated by the hallowed services 
and emblems of their religious worship. Their love for 
their Holy City was dearer, deeper and stronger than 
their love of life, and this love has endured through the 
long line of their descendants for nearly thirty centuries. 
Even now the few dejected and persecuted Jews who 
dwell in or visit Jerusalem, every week gather around 
the few broken and defaced stones of their ruined temple 
and pour forth wailing words and bitter tears, and with a 
sublime and unshaken faith long for the building of the 
walls of Zion. An all-absorbing and enduring love like 
this is itself an epic of wondrous beauty, pathos and 

With their language, with their history, with their 
beautiful country, with their sublime and imposing religious 
faith, and with their Holy City and fatherland, can it be a 
matter of surprise that the Hebrew bards produced the 
grandest and richest poetry ever read by man ? 


Art Culture. The Tabernacle and Temple. 
The Passover. 

In observing the influence which poetry has exerted 
upon the intellectual progress and aesthetic culture of 
other nations, we are naturally led to inquire why the 
Hebrews did not make higher advancement in the fine 
arts which are kindred to, and usually associated with the 
art of poetry, in which they attained such surpassing 
excellence. We will now proceed to examine briefly this 
interesting subject. 

The history of human progress shows that poetry is 
the only one of the fine arts that ever attained any high 
degree of excellence among a primitive people. It has, 
however, nearly always preceded and created that 
aesthetic culture which, in a more advanced stage of 
civilization, has given rise to the kindred arts of elegant 
architecture, music, painting and sculpture. 

Egypt is generally regarded as the cradle of the arts 
and sciences, but that people never produced any poetry 
of the highest order, and never became eminent in the 
fine arts. Their architecture was grand, massive and 
imposing, and their painting and sculpture were stiff, inele- 
gant, and greatly wanting in the elements of beauty. 
They taught the Greeks the first lessons of art, which 
that refined and imaginative people carried to a degree of 
excellence which has been the delight and admiration of 
all succeeding ages. 

The refined and elegant culture of the Greeks may in 
a great degree be attributed to the poems of Homer. 
These sublime poems were produced in a fabulous and 
heroic age and remained for more than three centuries an 


almost unwritten minstrelsy which lived with vivid fresh- 
ness and power in the hearts of the semi-civilized Greeks, 
inspiring and preparing them for their glorious intellectual 
and political destiny. When these poems were collected, 
arranged and reduced to writing by the accomplished 
Pisistratus they constituted the principal literature of the 
nation, and were read and studied in the schools of Athens 
and the cities of Ionia. It is said in fable that Cadmus 
sowed the teeth of a dragon and thus produced the stal- 
wart warriors of Thebes. It may be said in metaphor that 
Homer sowed the prolific germs of imaginative thought 
which sprang up into an abundant harvest that has 
enriched the world with the productions of poetry and art. 

During the period of the Roman republic there was but 
little poetic literature, and we find the people brave, 
intellectual and practical, founding wise civil institutions 
and beneficent laws; building splendid aqueducts, paved 
roads and massive structures for the purposes of war and 
commerce, but they made little advancement in aesthetic 

The poetry and cultivated taste of the conquered 
Greeks planted germs in Italy which sprang up in luxuriant 
fruitage, and soon the republican city of brick became 
the imperial city of marble, and the whole land was filled 
with elegant villas, temples and palaces, which were 
crowded and adorned with the highest achievements of 
artistic genius. 

The dawn that followed the midnight of the Middle 
Ages was beautified by the roseate light of poetry. In 
my first lecture I referred at some length to the influence 
of poetry in forming national tastes and in producing the 
high development of the kindred arts of architecture, 
music, painting and sculpture. This influence of poetry 
seems to constitute a primary and fundamental law of 
refined civilization. To this general law the history of 
the Hebrews furnishes a singular exception. They were 


a highly poetical people, and made some advancement in 
architecture, music and many of the useful arts, but they 
made little progress in painting and sculpture. At an 
early period they became familiar with Egyptian art, but 
they did not develop it into elegance and beauty like the 
Greeks, who in a subsequent age received information 
from the same great primal source of civilization. We 
propose to inquire briefly into some of the reasons why 
the Hebrews in this department of refined culture did not 
accomplish as much as the Greeks. In mental and physical 
organization the Hebrews were not inferior to the Greeks, 
and both races were remarkable for personal beauty and 
graceful symmetry of bodily development. The Greek 
artists in the young athletae of the gymnasium had 
appropriate models to guide their ideal conceptions of 
divinities and the demigods of the heroic ages. They 
were always surrounded with matchless forms of female 
beauty and grace. Greece, Ionia and the yEgean Isles 
presented numberless scenes of picturesque loveliness. 

The Hebrew artists might have found many an Asahel 
as light of foot as the wild roe, and many an Absalom 
the perfection of manly beauty. The achievements of the 
fabled Hercules were not superior to those of the Nazarite 
Judge who rent the young lion and who so easily bore 
away the ponderous gates of Gaza, and overwhelmed in 
terrific ruin the crowded temple of Dagon. The daughters 
of Zion, as they glided through the mingling mazes of the 
dance to the sound of timbrels and harps, might well 
have kindled the inspirations of genius longing for ideals 
of the graceful and the beautiful. The Hebrews were the 
highest type of the Shemitic races, and the Greeks were 
the noblest of the children of Japheth, and both were 
highly imaginative and loved the beautiful in nature, which 
they found in such rich profusion in the heaven-blest lands 
which they inhabited, and both expressed their ardent 
admiration of the glories of nature in the finest strains of 


poetry. It was not the lack of taste and genius, or the 
want of suitable subjects, or poverty of materials, that 
prevented the Hebrews from attaining superior excellence 
in imitative art, for their history and poetry have been 
the rich fields from which modern genius has gleaned its 
most splendid conceptions and models for painting and 

The principle cause of difference between the Hebrews 
and the Greeks in artistic development was the diversity 
of their religious faith. In every age among pagan 
nations there has been a strong feeling in the human 
heart that prompted man to seek for some object of 
sensuous worship. The Greeks had no divine revelation 
to guide them, and their ardent fancies created, or highly 
embellished the objects of their adoration. They were 
deeply impressed by natural beauty, which they supposed 
was produced and preserved by supernatural and ethereal 
beings. These were the beau ideals of their religious 
aspirations and their plastic genius gave them tangible 
and visible existence in painting and sculpture. We find 
that the highest efforts of genius in the fine arts repre- 
sented religious feeling and sentiment. The mythology 
of the Greeks was the rich and prolific source of their art 
inspiration. The spirit of Mediaeval Christianity was 
displayed in Gothic cathedrals and minsters, and in a 
later and more enlightened age kindled the genius of the 
Old Masters, who filled the cities of Europe with the 
noblest miracles of art. 

The Hebrews had but one place of public worship, and 
both the Tabernacle and Temple were built under instruc- 
tions from Jehovah and were sanctified by the mysterious 
symbols of His presence. Thus their genius for sacred 
architecture, painting and sculpture was not called into 
exercise, enlarged and refined by the frequent construction 
of gorgeous temples. They had none of the incentives and 
opportunities which stimulated and cultivated the genius of 


the artists of Greece, Rome and Modern Europe. The Tem- 
ple that stood in the midst of their holy city was built by 
Tyrian architects, and was more magnificent in architectural 
splendor and beauty than any structure ever reared by 
genius, but to them it was too sacred to be imitated, it was 
the dwelling place of the Most High. Their religious 
truths and principles were marked out and defined in the 
heaven-directed laws and institutions of Moses with 
precision and exactitude, and were too solemn and 
impressive for the creations of fancy. The voice of Jehovah 
proclaimed in tones of thunder from the lurid cloud- 
temple of Sinai, " Thou shalt not make unto thee any 
graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in 
heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath; or that is 
in the water under the earth." They had heard the awful 
penalties denounced against the violations of this law, 
and often witnessed dread judgments on the disobedient. 
They were continually surrounded and overshadowed by 
religious ceremonials, grandly gorgeous and imposing, and 
their ideas of Jehovah Sabaoth were invested with a sub- 
limity of awe too exalted for art, and could only be fitly 
expressed in the language of divine inspiration which 
elevated and enraptured the soul. In the times of their 
highest religious purity they could not imagine a sensuous 
representation of the attributes of Deity; omnipotence, 
omnipresence, infinity and the perfection of holiness, 
surrounded by that ineffable light and glory before which 
even the angels veiled their faces with their shining wings. 

When the Hebrews, under the demoralizing influences 
which surrounded them, departed from the observances of 
the ceremonial law and neglected their high spiritual 
worship, we find them following the examples of pagan 
nations and setting up images of sensuous and idolatrous 
adoration, but they were always brought back to their 
sacred allegiance by various corrective providences. 

We will mention only one other cause for the inferiority 


of the Hebrews in the fine arts. The history of these arts 
shows that they have never attained a high degree of 
excellence, except in a commercial and luxurious nation, 
where many individuals had accumulated large fortunes 
and had abundant leisure and a cultivated taste for 
refined enjoyments. The civil and political institutions of 
the Hebrews were designed for an agricultural and not a 
commercial people. They were all descended from the 
same common ancestor, and under their free institutions 
were entitled to equal social, civil and political privileges. 
There were no proud and imperious nobles and princes 
claiming a more distinguished lineage and higher prerog- 
atives than their fellow citizens, and who were desirous 
of perpetuating and rendering more impressive their social 
position, fame and power by costly palaces adorned with 
the rich and elaborate elegancies of art. There was no 
aristocracy of wealth who expended accumulated treasures 
in the profuse extravagances of pomp and pride. There 
were no large communities of slaves to rear massive and 
ostentatious structures like the pyramids, temples and 
treasure cities of Egypt, and the gorgeous palaces and 
hanging gardens of Babylon to perpetuate the fame of 
cruel and licentious despots. The laws and institutions of 
Moses — to which we have already referred — prevented the 
accumulation of large individual fortunes. 

In Palestine there were no great cities and commercial 
emporiums, the seats of voluptuous ease and luxurious 
refinements. The great mass of the people dwelt in vil- 
lages and hamlets, and were forced by necessity to spend 
their time in watching their flocks and herds, and in culti- 
vating their small patrimonial estates. Thus they remained 
a rural and pastoral people, living apart from other nations 
and retaining even to the time of the Babylonish captivity 
the simple manners and customs of their patriarchal 

I will now briefly refer to the elevating and refining 

ii 9 

influences produced upon Hebrew taste and culture by 
their sacred architecture, music and the splendid rites 
employed in the ceremonial services of the sanctuary. 
The Tabernacle erected in the wilderness by the heaven- 
inspired genius of Moses, Bazaleel and Aholiab, was a 
gorgeous pavillion gleaming with silver and gold and with 
the brightest coloring; and the inner curtains were richly 
embroidered with Cherubim and other beautiful figures of 
delicate and elaborate workmanship and joined to each 
other with finely chased clasps of gold. There was an 
awful sanctity in the silence and solitude of the Holy of 
Holies. No one ever went behind its mysterious separating 
veil except the High Priest, and he but once a year, after 
being sanctified by the most solemn and elaborate purifi- 
cations. In it were placed the golden Ark of the Covenant 
containing the tables of the law, the pot of manna and 
Aaron's wonder-working rod, and above the Mercy Seat 
stood with overshadowing wings the guardian golden 
Cherubim. No light of day entered this sacred and silent 
penetralia, but it was always illumined by the radiant 
glory of the Shechinah, the symbol of Jehovah's presence. 
During the desert pilgrimage the Tabernacle was always 
pitched in the centre of the encamping tribes, and above 
it stood in silent grandeur the pillar of cloud or the pillar 
of fire, which was the visible leader of the marching hosts. 
When the cloud moved from its resting place, the silver 
trumpets of the priests were sounded and the clear notes 
rang out in soul-stirring music over the white tents of 
Israel, and echoed and re-echoed among the valleys, hills 
and grand mountains of the desert. When Israel reached 
the Promised Land and found permanent homes among 
its green mountains, vine-clad hills and fertile valleys, and 
ceased from warfare and wandering, their love and veneration 
for the Tabernacle were greatly increased, as it had become 
the political and religious centre of the nation, and three 
times in each year the kindred tribes assembled in its 


sacred courts to join in its hallowed services. When they 
had returned to their homes from the great national festivals 
their memories of the Tabernacle were always fresh and 
vivid, as they knew that twice each day, as the sun arose 
over the Syrian desert, and as it sank into the waves of 
the great sea, the silver trumpets sounded, the sacrificial 
fires blazed on the brazen altar and the cloud of incense 
ascended from the golden altar in the Holy Place, as an 
atonement for their sins and an invocation of the continued 
blessings of Jehovah. 

Everything connected with the Hebrew ritual was 
impressive and splendid. t There was the High Priest 
clothed in the bright colored ephod, clasped in front 
by the breastplate which was sanctified by the Urim and 
Thummim, and sparkled with precious symbolic jewels, 
and on his brow a shining coronet of gold proclaimed 
him " Holy to the Lord." Around him were the priests, 
arrayed in rich sacerdotal vestures, preparing the offerings 
for the sacrifice. On both sides of the brazen altar 
stood immense choirs of white robed Levites pouring 
forth in antiphonal strains the sacred songs of praise and 
thanksgiving, accompanied with rich notes of instrumental 
music, together forming grand waves of melody, which 
made the heavens and hills resound with responsive 
echoing raptures. The Tabernacle worship was continued 
for more than four hundred years, and these religious 
ceremonies were made still more splendid and imposing 
in the temple service. 

I will not attempt to describe, at any length, the 
temple which Solomon built unto the God of Israel, and 
embellished with the riches of exhaustless treasures and 
all the glories of Tyrian art. The sanctuary of the temple 
was built of smoothly hewed stones, adjusted to each 
other with the nicest precision. It was covered within 
and without with cedar boards richly carved with Cherubim, 
palm trees and open flowers, overlaid with pure gold. 


The inner walls and ceiling were also garnished with 
precious stones, and the floor was a shining pavement of 
gold. The ten golden tables were laden with golden 
vessels encrusted with jewels, and the ten golden candle- 
sticks, from their numerous lamps fed with fragrant oil, 
sent forth a continuous breath of perfume and a blaze of 
light that filled the whole apartment with coruscating 
splendors. The sanctuary was surrounded with stories 
of chambers, with porticoes and galleries, and with 
massive walls and towers of the whitest marble. The 
whole temple structure, with its costly and precious 
decorations and adornments, rested upon the top of the 
sacred mountain, and on a clear day it glowed and gleamed 
and glittered in radiant glory like a magnificent palace of 
the sun "From diamond quarries hewn and rocks of gold." 
It was hallowed by the symbols of Jehovah's presence, 
and His voice of benediction had resounded through its 
sanctuaries. Well might the heart of a pious and patriotic 
Hebrew have swelled with the noblest sentiments and 
feelings as he beheld this pride of his country and the 
glorious temple of his God; while all the emotions of his 
soul bursted forth in rapturous song. 

We will now consider, with more minuteness of detail 
than we have heretofore done, someof the scenes presented 
in the celebration of the Passover. We select this one 
of the great national festivals of the Hebrews, as important 
events in their later history have rendered it so memorable 
and interesting to the Christian world. 

In the spring time of every year the families of Israel 
commenced their annual pilgrimage to the holy city, and 
from the mountains of Lebanon, the hills of Kedar, the 
plains of Syria, the shores of the great sea, and from all 
the green valleys of the holy land, in gathering caravans 
went up to Jerusalem to worship, singing songs of joy 
and praise and carrying offerings for the Temple. To 
them it was a sacred pilgrimage, rendered joyous by the 


association of old friends, and every resting place was a 
familiar spot surrounded by the beauties of nature and 
hallowed by pleasant memories. Everywhere along the 
journey they witnessed scenes renowned in heroic and 
sacred story, and heard names made musical by the 
melody of song. And when from the mountains round 
about Jerusalem they saw their sacred temple and holy 
city gleaming with the reflected glories of the sunlight, 
with feelings of intense devotion they sang a sublime 
liturgical Psalm in choral joy and melody that seemed 
to make even the trees of the wood to rejoice and the 
green hills shout with gladness. In the hospitable homes 
of the city they found a cordial welcome, and everywhere 
in house and tent and booth families gathered at the 
table of the paschal supper and in effectionate and holy 
communion celebrated the great national feast. They were 
not wearied from journeying but spent the night in talking 
over the memorable events in their nation's history, and 
with grateful hearts returned thanks to Jehovah for His 
manifold beneficences. They eagerly longed for the coming 
morning when the great congregation would enter the 
gates of the Lord's house with thanksgiving and praise. 
I will now attempt to describe briefly a scene which 
might have been witnessed by a pious Hebrew from the 
top of Mount Olivet on the first day of the Passover. 
The kindling rays of the dawn have tipped with silvery 
brightness the summits of the dark mountains of Moab 
and the gray twilight is gliding silently and softly over 
the awakening city and amid the gloaming of the wide 
extended landscape. All things in nature have waked 
from the solemn stillness and slumbers of the night, and 
with fresh, glad voices seem to hail the coming light, while 
soft mystic melodies are floating on the ambient air. Now 
he sees more distinctly the white tents on the mountain 
sides and hi the deep valleys and can hear the noise of 
eager footsteps and the busy hum of voices that tell him 


that the devout hosts of Israel are preparing for the morn- 
ing sacrifice. In the East are slowly spreading - the gorgeous 
curtains of the earthly tabernacle, gleaming in purple and 
gold and glorious in beauty, resting on mountain pillars, 
and covering flowery plains, verdant hills and fruitful 
valleys. And now the sun — nature's high priest — enters 
through the beautiful gates of the morning and with grand 
majestic march moves up his celestial pathway and with 
bountiful beneficence fills the earthly tabernacle with 
golden radiance, blessedness and joy; and nature worships 
its Great Creator and sends up anthems of thanksgiving 
and the richest incense to His holy temple not made with 
hands, eternal in the heavens. Now man begins his 
worship, and the silver trumpets from the temple wake the 
echoes that slumbered among the mountains of Zion, and 
clear and musical the notes come over the the gliding 
Kidron and are ringing among the cedars, the figtrees, 
the clustering vines and waving palms of Olivet. 

It is the hour of the morning sacrifice and the mingled 
clouds from the altars of incense and burnt offering are 
rising above the gleaming pinnacles, the stately porches 
and beautiful gates of the Temple, and are spreading like 
Jehovah's protecting wing over the assembled people and 
the hallowed land. From every house in Jerusalem, and 
from the tents of Israel, rejoicing worshipers are crowding 
up the marble steps of the temple courts and with voices 
and emotions gushing from grateful hearts are joining the 
glorious harmonies of the temple choirs as with exultant 
joy they sing the sublime morning anthem. The grand 
and imposing scenes which accompanied the celebration 
of the great national festivals must have made a profound 
and ineffaceable impression upon the pious, patriotic and 
imaginative Hebrew, as he earnestly believed that they 
but dimly prefigured the Messianic glories that were to 
beam with supernatural splendors around the mountains 
of Zion and make Jerusalem the joy of the whole earth. 


The Ages of David and Solomon. The Influence 
of Hebrew Poetry upon Christian Hymnology. 

The age of David and Solomon is generally regarded 
as the zenith period of the national prosperity, power and 
literary glory of the Hebrews. The reigns of these two 
princes, in some respects, present a striking contrast, and 
yet both contributed greatly to social and intellectual 
progress and national development. David was the 
greatest king of Israel. He conquered all their enemies 
and extended his dominions from the borders of Egypt 
to the Euphrates, and his turbulent reign was illumined 
with the splendors of civic and military achievements. 

Solomon was a peaceful prince, more munificent in his 
bounties and more successful in promoting national 
prosperity and advancement than the brilliant Pericles or 
the wise and pacific Augustus. He built the Temple, the 
most rich and gorgeous structure ever erected by the 
hands of men, and he beautified Jerusalem with public 
works and palaces and made it the home of industry, 
science and the useful arts, and the centre of a rich and 
refined social and intellectual culture which attracted the 
wonder and admiration of other nations. He sent the 
messengers of commerce to bring wealth, comfort and 
luxuries from distant shores and the "Isles of the Gentiles." 
He exhibited the talent and skill of human diplomacy by 
establishing friendly relations with neighboring kingdoms, 
and his justice and wisdom made him an arbiter of nations, 
and induced thousands of strangers to make their homes 
in a land blessed with his enlightened laws and beneficent 
institutions. He reared cities in the wilderness, laid out 
highways and planted gardens in the desert, and gave his 


people the blessings of peace. These two reigns continued 
for more than fifty years, and a period so brilliant with 
the triumphs of war and the glories of peace must have 
greatly stimulated and elevated the genius of a people 
who were constantly expecting and earnestly longing for 
a golden age of national greatness and splendor, when 
the promised Messiah, as a magnificent prince, would estab- 
lish his ever-enduring throne upon Mount Zion and make 
Jerusalem the metropolitan city of all nations. Such 
intense hopes and vivid fancies were well calculated to 
call forth the loftiest efforts of poetic genius. 

We may well believe that David and Solomon were 
representative men of their nation, and that their sublime 
productions which have come down to us present but few 
of the many thoughts and emotions that gushed from the 
glowing hearts and minds of their countrymen in the 
richest language and clothed with imagery as multiform 
as that which nature furnishes in her glorious gallery of 
the earth, sea and skies. 

We believe that a poet is the creature of his age, and 
in a great degree collects and reflects the spirit of his 
people. The circumstances and influences by which he is 
surrounded are the inspirations of his genius. He concen- 
trates these various intellectual, moral and natural 
influences and gives them new forms of life, power and 
beauty, just as the lens of science collects and concen- 
trates the diffused rays of light into a more brilliant and 
burning glow. The poetic feelings of the Hebrew people, 
produced by the causes to which we have referred, were 
the natural influences which kindled the genius of David 
when an humble shepherd boy, tending his fathers flocks 
in the quiet valleys of Bethlehem, he tuned his simple 
harp to immortal melodies; and his songs were elevated 
to sublimer strains when he experienced the merciful 
providences of God, shielding him from the relentless 
persecutions of Saul and guiding his pathway through 


the vicissitudes and dangers of his stormy life. Solomon 
was the child of the much loved Bathsheba, and received 
the constant care, instruction and fervent affections of his 
noble and highly gifted father. He was surrounded by 
the taste and elegance of court life, and his youthful 
genius was heightened and brightened by the gorgeous 
ceremonies and glorious minstrelsy and music of the 
tabernacle service which David had so admirably regu- 
lated. In this connection we only speak of the natural 
gifts, advantages and attainments of David and Solomon. 
They were also prophets and inspired poets, and in their 
writings, preserved in the Old Testament, they were 
under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 

The writings of the^ prophets who preceded the Cap- 
tivity are highly poetical and furnish strong evidence of 
the imaginative temperament of their people. Rebellion, 
disunion and the bitterness of sectional and political 
hatred had destroyed the unity of national life and broken 
down many of the strong bulwarks which had so long 
preserved the chosen people from the demoralizing 
influences of the surrounding nations, and they had almost 
forgotten the God and the sacred institutions of their 
fathers. At this period of degeneracy the prophets were 
sent as divine messengers to warn, instruct and guide the 
people, and they knew full well that they could not arrest 
the tides of rapid decline in any other manner than by 
appealing in impassioned and glowing eloquence to the 
intense and fervid natures of their countrymen. The 
prophecies are grand national poems cf varied styles and 
harmonies. At one time they are illumined with bright 
pictures of the events of the past and the glorious hopes 
of the future; then in weeping and pleading melodies 
they speak to the finest and most tender feelings of the 
heart; and then they utter strong denunciations against 
sin, error and disobedience, and then kindle and burn 
with indignant and eloquent imprecations against the 


nations who had oppressed and corrupted Israel. We 
will reserve the subject of the prophecies for more 
extended consideration in a future lecture. 

We will now take a rapid glance at the influences exerted 
by Hebrew poetry upon the literatures and civilization of 
subsequent ages. We have already spoken of the influence 
of some of the great poems of classic antiquity upon the 
aesthetic culture of mankind. They were crystalized and 
made immortal by the power of human genius, but they 
have operated upon only a comparatively small class of 
educated men, and their influences have not permeated 
the great mass of the people of subsequent times and 
aroused their noblest emotions and awakened their moral 
perceptions and intellectual energies. Many of the He- 
brew J3ards lived centuries before Homer and their great 
poems are now read, even at this distant age, with the 
highest pleasure and profit by millions who know nothing 
of poetry as a fine art and whose tastes have never been 
cultivated by the elegancies of classic learning. These 
poems gave an unyielding national cohesiveness to the 
Jewe during the post-exillian period of their history when 
the conquests of Alexander, the desolating wars of his 
successors, and the all-grasping ambition of Rome were 
continually changing the boundaries and destinies of 
States, and making human society a vast boiling and 
bloody caldron of strife and revolution. 

The Septuagint version of these poems, through the 
medium of the elegant and cultivated language of Greece, 
transfused their influence into ancient learning andciviliza- 
tion, and thus prepared the world for those glorious realities 
which they had dimly but grandly prefigured. They 
became blended with the teachings and beauties of the 
New Dispensation with as natural and harmonious an 
affinity as the rudy and glowing light of the morning 
dawn melts into the effulgence of the rising sun. 

It is not my purpose in these lectures to refer even in a 


cursory manner to the New Testament, for I would not 
by a hasty sketch do injustice to such a rich and extensive 
subject. I will say, however, that it contains numerous 
passages and scenes of exquisite beauty and tender pathos. 
The Sermon on the Mount is not only the most perfect 
discourse ever uttered, but it is a poem of incomparable 
beauty, glowing with the light of divine love, and the 
Beatitudes must have some of the heavenly sweetness of 
the songs which the angels sing. The speeches and 
writings of Saint Paul in richness of thought, in terseness, 
force and elegance of diction are equal to the best pro- 
ductions of Athenian genius; and the sublime visions of 
the Apocalypse were painted with the brightest pencil of 
poetic prophecy. The New Testament develops the 
spiritual beauties of Hebrew literature, just as the sun- 
shine causes the diamond to gleam with a brilliancy of 
lustre that was not visible in the dimness of the twilight. 
The influence of Hebrew poetry upon thehymnology of 
the Christian Church can be distinctly traced from the 
earliest times. The hymn which Christ and his Apostles 
sang at the close of the first Lord's Supper was a psalm 
which had long been used in the celebration of the Pass- 
over; and from that hour on through the ages psalms and 
hymns and sacred songs have thrilled the heart of the 
Christian world, and many of their highest and richest 
notes of praise were those that once sounded to melody 
wakened on thestrings of the old Hebrew lyre. During the 
Apostolic age and for more than a century afterwards no 
other songs were used in public or private devotions than 
" Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide," 

and in the churches they were sung in the antiphonal 
style used by Asaph and his choirs of Levites as in lofty 
melody they responded from each side of the brazen altar 
of the Temple. 

In after ages there was a long and eventful struggle 
between the refined and elegant mythology, philosophy 


and poetry of paganism and the simple rites and doctrines, 
and the sublime literature of Christianity for supremacy in 
the Roman empire. Those were indeed times that tried 
men's souls, and they exhibited a lofty courage and sublime 
fortitude that have no parallels in the annals of human 
heroism. As the primitive church passed through the 
terrible ordeal of the martyr ages the courage and endur- 
ance of Christian heroes were elevated and ennobled by 
memories of Israel's trials and triumphs and sustained by 
a living faith in the same Almighty Being that guarded 
the prophet with the horses and chariots of fire, that 
stopped the mouths of lions, and walked with His suffering 
and persecuted children through the fierce furnace fires of 
Babylon. Although the Church was triumphant over the 
principalities and powers of paganism, the brightness of its 
celestial armor was tarnished, it received many scars in 
the conflict, and departed far from the purity of its first 
love. Temporal success and power brought pride, wealth 
and worldly ambition to the descendants of the saintly 
fathers and heroic martyrs, and caused them to depart 
from the simple rites and doctrines of patristic times. 
But as the Church moved on its troublous pathway 
through the revolutions of states and empires into the 
thickening gloom of the Middle Ages the old Hebrew 
Psalter rang out, like the notes of the silver trumpets of 
the priests, leading and cheering the hosts of Israel in 
their desert journey, and its grand hymns of praise 
modulated to new metres swelled on the notes of Cecil- 
ian organs through the dim aisles and lofty arches of 
Gothic cathedrals and minsters, inspiring thousands of 
ea/nest and pious hearts with high and rapt devotion. 

The mighty social, political and religious revolutions 
caused by the Reformation engendered strong feelings of 
prejudice and hatred against the Church of Rome, and 
some of the Reformers, uninfluenced by the example and 
teachings of Luther, regarded as abominations even the 


innocent beauties of its ceremonial service, and its elegant 
music and many of its sublime hymns and anthems were 
considered as the pagan and unholy attendants of an 
impure and idolatrous worship. Such feelings were mani- 
fested in a high degree by the Puritans and made them 
hostile even to the beautiful and spiritual liturgy of the 
Reformed Church of England. The bold, stern and fanati- 
cal spirit of Puritanism came over the English Protestant 
Church like a storm-cloud which often comes over the 
face of nature when fierce with the thunder and glittering 
with the lightning, fructifying the earth with fertilizing 
rains, but hiding the joyous sunlight and hushing the 
sweet, soft voices that breathe their melodies in God's 
grand earthly temple. As the storm accomplishes impor- 
tant and beneficent results in the economy of nature and 
is followed by a purer atmosphere, richer vegetation and 
a brighter day, so the moral and religious storm of Puri- 
tanism, although it, for a time, obscured the advancing 
light of progress, yet with the red rain of the blood of 
patriots and martyrs it fertilized the dwarfed and feeble 
plants of intellectual and religious freedom and caused 
them to spring up into more healthful and vigorous life 
and bear fruits and leaves for the enjoyment and healing of 
the nations. As the morning light with freshness and 
beauty follows the darkness of night, as the rainbow 
gleams upon the bosom of the storm, so God is ever bring- 
ing light, beauty and hope out of the confused councils 
of men and the revolutions of nations. The lofty enthu- 
siasm, passionate purpose and intense religious zeal of 
Puritanism, darkened the earnest minds and hearts of the 
Puritan Fathers with bigotry and intolerance, yet it gave 
birth to a purer and more spiritual Christianity and 
produced the grandest prose and poetic literature in our 
language. What Christian can, without emotions of grati- 
tude and admiration, read the eloquent productions of the 
old Puritan divines, so rich in thought and language and 


so illumined with spiritual truth. The Paradise Lost will 
ever stand pre-eminently glorious in English literature; 
and tear drops from the eyes of youth, manhood and 
age have fallen and will ever fall upon those immortal 
pages on which the Puritan Bunyan in his prison cloister 
traced with vivid imagery and tender pathos the dangers, 
difficulties, trials and triumphs of the Christian pilgrimage. 
In that age another poet sprang up in the bosom of the 
Puritan Church, whose exquisite genius glowed with the 
blended inspiration of the Bards of Israel and the sublime 
teachings of the Gospel, and he touched his hallowed 
harp with lyric raptures. Isaac Watts is the well recog- 
nized leader of the modern noble choir of Christian 
minstrels whose sacred songs, glowing with the spirit of 
the psalmists, prophets and apostles, will ever thrill 
through the church on earth, waking higher and gladder 
strains of melody until they blend with the seraphic 
harmonies of the Church in glory. 

We have now concluded our hasty and imperfect 
enumeration of some of the causes and influences which 
operated most powerfully upon the Hebrews in producing 
their sublime and matchless poetry. In our succeeding 
lectures we will speak more in detail of these productions 
which contain so many gems of thought radiant in truth 
and beauty, and of inestimable value to the literature of 
the world. 

Before concluding this lecture we deem it appropriate 
briefly to allude to a prevalent error and prejudice which 
long prevented "Bible Poetry" from exerting its full 
and beneficent influence upon the aesthetic culture of 
mankind. Since the days of the Reformation, but espe- 
cially since the times of Puritanism, there have been 
many earnest and devout Christians who have regarded 
the expression "Bible Poetry" as profane and blasphem- 
ous. In their intense religious zeal they associated poetry 
with fiction, fable and worldly pleasures and delights. 


They regarded the Bible as too sacred and truthful to be 
placed in profane association with the creations of human 
fancy. They would not admit that the Bible contained 
any poetry. They objected to all the modern improve- 
ments in sacred music, and could not listen with proper 
composure to many of the sweet and beautiful hymns of 
our Christian bards, which were inspired by faith and 
adorned with the beauty of holiness. This prejudice may 
exist to some extent in this country at the present day, 
but it is rapidly passing away before the enlightenment of 
our civilization'and the influence of a pure and spiritual 
Christianity, and nearly all men of education, fine sus- 
ceptibilities and cultivated tastes, now regard the Bible as 
not only the inspired word of God, but also as a great 
literary treasure and the repository of the sweetest and 
sublimest poetry. 

Nearly every one can feel the influence of poetry, but 
it is almost impossible to define the meaning of the word. 
The definitions contained in dictionaries by no means 
embrace the entire signification of the term. Poetry is 
derived from a Greek verb, meaning to create, and com- 
prehends within the scope of the ideas conveyed by the 
word anything in nature or art that creates, arouses or 
suggests elevated, pleasing or pathetic emotions and 
thoughts. Thus we hear and feel the poetry of music 
when some skillful hand wakes the witchery of the tuneful 
harp, or blends into harmony the low, soft, solemn and 
breathing melodies of the church organ. The Greeks 
were accustomed to associate poetry and music, and in 
their mythology these twin sisters of melody were 
believed to be under the control of the same divinities; 
and poets were always represented as masters of the lyre. 
We can well believe that the expression "prose poetry" 
is not a verbal paradox when we read many of the rich 
rhythmic and brilliant pages of history, philosophy, 
eloquence, criticism and science, and feel our hearts thrill 


with the sweetest and noblest emotions as we catch some 
of the spirit and musical cadences of the great word and 
thought painters who have illumined our prose literature 
with the true Promethean fire of genius. 

We often hear of the " poetry of nature," and every 
one who is susceptible to impressions of the grand, 
sublime and beautiful scenes in nature, everywhere so 
profusely displayed, regards the expression as accurate 
and appropriate. Indeed nature is the true source of 
poetry, and any composition which is not in accordance 
with her principles and laws will not command lasting 
admiration, although the language may be glowing and 
rhythmical. In classic metaphor nature is called the 
Parnassus of poetry, and she has numerous fountains of 
inspiration which gush with perennial waters, of which 
the poet who drinks deeply becomes immortal. 

We feel that it is not irreverent to speak of the 
*' poetry of religion." Aspirations after holiness, heaven 
and God fill the heart with sweet emotions and the mind 
with lofty thoughts which ever struggle to express them- 
selves in prayer or the joyous voice of song. The 
feelings of David when he wrote "As the heart panteth 
after the water brooks so panteth my -soul after Thee, O, 
God," was the keynote of his rapturous and glorious 
minstrelsy. These earnest religious aspirations not only 
tuned the harps of Psalmists, Prophets and Christian 
minstrels, but they have filled millions of human hearts 
with melody and poetry which were never uttered or 
written in song or poem, but were breathed in silent 
ascriptions of thanksgiving and praise, which were heard 
in heaven and sounded on the rejoicing harps of the 
angels. Poetry, in a general sense, is the spirit of the 
true, the beautiful, the good, the sublime and the holy. 
In a more confined and technical sense it is the expression 
of that spirit by means of metrical and musical language. 
We will not endeavor to give a more accurate and com- 


prehensive definition. We might as well attempt to 
hold the winds in the hollow of our hands, or imprison 
the sunlight that in glittering freedom sports over the 
landscape. Poetry is a kind of anima mundi that pervades 
the universe and produces a sublime and beautiful harmony 
in the natural creation, and between the ideal and the real. 

God has revealed Himself to man both in His works 
and in His word. If in the wide domain of nature — 
man's earthly and temporary dwelling — the revelations 
of God in His works are to our natural senses so full of 
richness, elegance, beauty, sublimity and magnificence; so 
complete in order, symmetry and harmony, and so vocal 
with melodies, can we be surprised that the revelations 
which He has made in His word to our spiritual percep- 
tions and our moral natures, which are in His image, 
should be radiant and musical with some of the celestial 
light, melody and glory of the eternal home. 

A true test of the excellency of poetry is the influence 
which it exerts upon mankind. It is said that a well 
tuned harp-string untouched by mortal finger will vibrate 
in harmony to accordant notes made on another musical 
instrument. Thus poetic feeling may lie deep and silent 
in the heart but it utters its sweetest voice when awakened 
by some strain struck in unison on the lyre by the skilful 
hand of genius. This is the mystic power of Hebrew 
poetry. It is in unison with the finest and purest emotions 
of the human heart and will awake in the soul responsive 

Our intellectual faculties and cultivated tastes may be 
charmed with the musical flow and sublime imagery of 
Bible poetry, but we cannot realize its purest beauties, its 
sweetest harmonies, and its most tender pathos unless 
we are inspired with a faith that makes us hear the 
whisperings of the Holy Spirit, even as the Hebrew bards 
heard the voice of God in the rapt moments of inspiration. 


The Pentateuch. The Books of Ruth, Esther 

and Job. 

A traveler of culture and imagination as he stands 
amidst the ruins of Egyptian Thebes and surveys the 
majestic memorials that rest upon the grave of a dead 
empire is deeply impressed with the solemn gradeur of 
the scene. 

The brilliant light of that cloudless clime gleams upon 
the wrecks and relics of time, the wondrous Nile moves 
its volume of waters through its fertile valley from the 
mountains to the sea, and the tall regal palms as they 
wave their plumed heads to the breezes, all present scenes 
of life and beauty; but still the beholder feels that he is 
surrounded by the gloomy shadows of death. He is 
impressed with a solemn presence — the adumbration of a 
mightier power than time — which has been working the 
grand changes and revolutions of human destiny. Around 
him on every side are the evidences of a once wealthy, 
enlightened and powerful people, but no historic voice 
tells him of the times when were reared those once splendid 
shrines of devotion and costly palaces of ambition and 
pride. There are records written on the monuments and 
tombs of the buried race, but they are as yet almost as 
voiceless to mankind as the sphinx of the desert. Imagina- 
tion, with eager restlessness soars into the darkness and 
mysteries of the regions of the silent past but brings 
back no light upon its wings. Much of the history of Old 
Egypt is covered with the deluge of oblivion, which is 
more impenetrable to human efforts than the chilled 


waters and icy ramparts that surround and guard the poles. 

There is an antiquity more remote than that of Old 
Egypt, and it has a history that is radiant with holy and 
living light that speaks with eloquent voices to the 
human heart, throws open an invaluable treasury of truth, 
and spreads out fields of richness and enchanting beauty 
for instructive, speculative and poetic thought. 

The preservation of the Scriptures of the Old Testament 
is indeed a wondrous miracle. They have not only survived 
the wrecks and ruins of time, but they have passed 
unharmed through the fierce furnace fires of human 
passion, strife and persecution. Every one who, with 
calm and unbiased mind, will trace the history of the Old 
Testament — as a book — must be satisfied that it is 
endowed with divine immortality; and when he reads and 
devoutly considers its sublime and holy teachings and 
its rich language, his heart will feel a blessed inspiration 
and in humility and reverence he will say, this is certainly 
the word of God. 

We will not enter upon the extensive field of Biblical 
criticism and exposition to consider the question as to 
the extent of the inspiration of the writers of the Old 
Testament as we have not the qualifications to discuss 
the subject in the various phases in which it has been 
presented. We will not attempt to distinguish between 
those portions which were originated by inspiration and 
those that were communicated as revelations. We have 
the highest authority for believing that " All Scripture is 
given by inspiration of God," and that the authors " spoke 
as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." The authors 
themselves often declared that they spoke and wrote 
under such divine influence. We have no direct informa- 
tion as to the manner in which this divine influence operated 
generally upon the minds and hearts of the authors. 
We fully believe that the Old Testament is the word of 
God and that the truths, thoughts and facts which it 


contains were divinely inspired, revealed or controlled 
with absolute certitude, and that the language used in 
giving them expression was directly communicated, influ- 
enced or sanctioned by the Holy Spirit. Inspiration did 
not deprive the authors of all individual consciousness, 
or of their peculiar modes of thought and expression, 
but kept them from all error while speaking and writing 
under its influence. Inspiration illumined their minds 
with infallible light and controlled their genius while 
they drew appropriate and forcible illustrations of divine 
truths from the events of the past and present, and when 
they referred to the manners and customs of their times, 
and to their vivid perceptions of the objects of the natural 
world. They were inspired and at the same time many 
of them had genius of the highest order. They were 
like the planets of the solar system, differing from each 
other in magnitude and glory, and yet constituting one 
harmonious system, revolving round and receiving light 
from the same great central orb. 

The books of the Old Testament, in their diversity of 
language and imagery, yet oneness of purpose, may well 
be compared to the r-ainbow. This beautiful object in 
nature is "A bow or arch of a circle consisting of all the 
colors formed by the refraction and reflection of rays of 
light from drops of rain or vapor appearing in the part of 
the hemisphere opposite to the sun." The brilliant sun- 
beams flash in golden beauty from the same source of 
light, and on the curtain of the storm-cloud paint in 
various, distinct and nicely blending colors, the bow of 
God — the sign of His ever-enduring covenant of mercy 
to man. Thus the light of inspiration, which shone upon 
the minds and hearts of the Hebrew bards, proceeded from 
the same source, and was refracted, reflected and separated 
into different styles of composition by the media through 
which it passed, and was blended into a harmonious unity 


glowing with the rich and precious truths and promises 
of God. 

The profound and elevated teachings of the Old 
Testament were primarily intended for the instruction 
and guidance of the Hebrews, and within themselves 
furnish strong evidence that the Hebrews were an intel- 
lectual and highly imaginative people. For we must 
suppose that the knowledge, thought and language used 
were best suited for the purposes to be accomplished, and 
were in accordance with the aesthetic tastes and the 
mental and moral capacities and susceptibilities of the 
people. God has done nothing imperfectly, and in the 
wide realms of nature all created things, from the smallest 
to the greatest, are remarkably adapted to the purposes 
of their creation, and can we reasonably suppose that this 
arrangement of order, harmony, beauty and perfection 
was departed from in His revealed word, intended for the 
advancement of the high mental and moral nature of man, 
in which he is most like God. 

Our purpose in these lectures is to speak principally of 
the Old Testament as the repository of the poetry and 
literature of the ancient Hebrews. Of course we cannot 
consider it entirely apart from its divine inspiration. We 
might as well speak of the beauties of the human face 
without alluding to the soul-light that beams from the 
eye in eloquent radiance. 

We propose to examine this remarkable book by a human 
standard of excellence, just as a poet and astronomer often 
regard the brilliant, life-giving warmth and manifold 
influences of the sun in the wide realms of nature, without 
specially referring to the omnipotence and goodness of 
Him who placed it in the heavens and invested it with 
beneficent influences and controlling power. 

The Old Testament, viewed as a human composition, 
possesses more profound wisdom for the guidance of 
human action, more instructive and interesting history, 


and more beautiful and sublime poetry, than all the books 
of ancient or modern times. We will not enter into the 
wide fields which it presents for human thought and 
investigation, but we will confine our attention to those 
portions which especially contain poetic thought and 
imagery. And first comes the Pentateuch, venerable for 
antiquity, profound in wisdom and brilliant with the gems 
of genius. It was written by a wonderful man. By 
nature he was endowed with lofty heroism, exalted 
intellect and genius, and with all those elevated and noble 
virtues which make men truly great. Forty years of his 
life were spent at the court of the most highly civilized 
people of that age, and he was instructed in all their 
learning and wisdom. Forty years he spent in pastoral 
occupations amidst the sublime scenery of a mountain 
wilderness, often holding spiritual communion with 
Jehovah, and devoutly contemplating the wild grandeur 
of nature. He also had frequent association with the 
old Arabian Emirs, who breathed the spirit of liberty, 
and were instructed by the experiences and long accumu- 
lated wisdom of their patriarchal ancestors, and were 
familiar with the poetic legends and traditions of pre- 
historic ages. 

Most of the language of the Pentateuch is prosaic in 
form, but still it presents events and scenes which arouse 
the high-st poetic emotions. It is a noble prose epic 
How grandly it looms up amidst the shadows of distant 
centuries, revealing the earliest history and institutions of 
mankind, and gleaming, as did Sinai of old, with the glory 
of God. If the Pentateuch and its manifold influences had 
never existed how different would be the condition of 
Christendomin itsknowledge in history, itsculture inlitera- 
ture, its wisdom in civil government and its social and 
individual enlightenment, prosperity and- happiness. It is 
the deep-laid foundation of that structure of which Christ 
isthechiefcornerstone.and which, in the course ofcenturies, 


has been reared into the grand temple of Christian civiliza- 
tion. It hasnotonlycontrolled many of the leading events 
of history and the civil and religious institutions of mankind, 
but its thoughts, language and imagery have been inwrought 
like golden threads in the warp and woof of society, and 
it furnishes many of the cherished and familiar household 
words of all classes of men in Christian communities. 
The old and the young, the rich and the poor, priest and 
layman, peasant and king, orators, poets, historians, 
jurists, statesmen and philosophers all obtain treasures of 
thought and language from this inexhaustible repository 
of human and divine wisdom. Its poetic elements are 
interspersed through all of its books, and its melodies 
are rich and varied like those of the grand orchestra of 
nature that ranges over every musical note, from the 
deep-toned bass of the ocean and the thunder to the 
soft, sweet treble strains of the singing birds. 

I feel that my reference to the poetry of the Pentateuch 
would be very incomplete without calling your special 
attention to the closing chapters of Deuteronomy, the last 
utterance of the peculiarly favored friend of God, and the 
grandest poet and statesman of Israel . They are considered 
by most Biblical scholars as the finest specimens of Hebrew 
poetry. The circumstances under which they were written 
and delivered were grandly sublime and imposing. Moses 
had been divinely informed that, on account of his sinful 
conduct and inconsiderate words at Meribah, he would 
not be allowed to enter the Promised Land. He knew 
that his end was near, and, with all the tender fondness 
of a loving father, he was anxious to secure the future 
welfare of his erring people. By divine direction he had 
chosen Joshua as his successor, and he was about to 
deliver his parting blessings and his earnest and eloquent 
warnings and entreaties to the nation which he had 
organized and long watched with jealous care. "His eye 
was not dim nor his natural force abated;" and his wisdom 


and genius were enlarged and elevated by the experiences 
of more than a century of years, and illumined by vivid 
prophetic visions of coming glories. As the servant of 
Jehovah he had delivered His people from the house of 
bondage; he had passed with them through the deep 
caverns of the obedient sea; he had stood alone in the 
inner audience chamber of awful Sinai and talked " face 
to face" with his Sovereign Lord; he had conducted His 
people through the various scenes, dangers and difficulties 
of their long desert pilgrimage, and had given them 
beneficent laws, a magnificent religious ritual and free 
institutions. Nearly all the associates of his earlier years 
had died in the eventful journey. The voices of the wise 
elders and counselors whom he had first chosen were 
silent; Miriam, his much loved and gifted sister, had been 
buried at Kadesh; and Aaron, who had been his eloquent 
spokesman, slept in a lonely grave amidst the solitudes of 
Mt. Hor. Young and vigorous Israel were about to pass 
over Jordan and possess the "goodly land" which he 
would never enter, but which he would soon see in his 
last earthly beatific vision, and then God and the angels 
would place him in that mountain sepulchre which was 
forever to remain unknown. There his body sleeps, and 
the winds and storms of the ages have ever sang his 
requiem, and the sentinel sun and stars, in ceaseless 
march, have watched and guarded the ashes of the mighty 

As Moses thus stood in holy contemplation before the 
veil of the tabernacle, and surveyed the white tents of 
his beloved Israel, extending far over the plains of Moab, 
" as gardens by the river's side," and while his memory 
was glowing with the vivid recollections of the eventful 
past, and while his clear eye of prophecy was resting on 
visions of mingled gloom and glory in the future, is it to 
be wondered that his elevated and inspired genius and 
noble heart should have conceived grand and glorious 


poetic thoughts which he uttered in language of tearful 
pathos, rhythmic beauty and lofty sublimity. 

For four hundred and fifty years — with the exception 
of the book of Job— the Pentateuch constituted the only 
literature of the Hebrews of which we have any definite 
knowledge. In every period of their history it was 
regarded with the highest veneration. It was the book 
of the sacred covenant — the law and constitution of their 
nation. Its teachings directed their public worship and 
private devotion, it regulated all civil affairs and social 
and domestic relations, and was the subject of constant 
study and devout meditation. We may well conceive 
that a people so thoroughly imbued with the elevated 
sentiments and language of their great law-giver, historian 
and poet must have been animated in a high degree with 
his lofty spirit and sublime genius. 

To show the inuflence of the genius and writings of 
Moses in transforming the character of his people, we 
will briefly refer to their early history. A few families of 
shepherds and husbandmen — all the descendants of Jacob — 
went down to the land of Goshen. The enervating 
climate and the corrupt civilization of Egypt, and hard 
bondage, made the descendants of the free and noble old 
patriarchs a degenerate and servile people. They had 
lost their nomadic liberty, and were not yet animated 
with the higher spirit of freedom, inspired by national 
unity and independence. The eloquence of Aaron, the 
poetic earnestness of Miriam, and the God-like wisdom 
and power of Moses, manifested by wondrous miracles, 
were all required to make them fly even from the house 
of cruel bondage. Like a timid herd of slaves, they 
stood trembling with fear on the shore of the sea, when 
they heard the noise of the chariot wheels and the 
advancing march of Pharaoh's hosts. When, by a won- 
derful deliverance, they reached in safety the other shore 
they sang the pean of a victory which their courage had 


not won. When they had encountered the wild sons of 
Amalek the valor and example of Joshua was not sufficient 
to urge them on to battle for self preservation until the 
uplifted hands of Moses, as he invoked divine aid, nerved 
their hearts, which had quailed under a slight disaster. 
When the bondage of Egypt and the hardships and 
privations of the wilderness were behind them, and before 
them was the Promised Land, consecrated by the graves 
and memories of their forefathers, flowing with milk and 
honey, rich in pastures and olive groves, and abounding 
with perennial streams and the purple clusters of the 
vines of Eshcol, they listened to the timid spies and 
shrank from a conflict with the giant sons of Anak, 
although Jehovah had led them so far through every 
danger and difficulty, and had so frequently manifested 
His beneficence and wondrous power. All of the servile 
and degenerate Hebrews perished in the wilderness, but 
the teachings of Moses and the stern discipline of a long 
desert pilgrimage infused into their descendants the spirit 
of freedom and the vigor of a new national life, and made 
a nation of conquering heroes. They crossed the Jordan 
and for seven years were victorious, and with strong hand 
recovered the land of their ancestors. Then, under the 
influence of their civil and religious institutions, they 
became an agricultural and pastoral people, unaggressive 
and pacific, but strong in defensive valor. They developed 
the force and beauty of the domestic and social virtues 
and the principles of individual and national freedom, and 
surrounded and commingled everything with their elevated 
religious faith. 

The other historical books of the Old Testament 
furnish a brief and meagre outline of the history of the 
Hebrews during the time of the commonwealth, the 
kings, the captivity and the restoration. They are written 
principally in simple prose, but as they furnish a narrative 
of great and interesting events they often glow with 


fervid eloquence, and sometimes swell into the highest 
strains of poetry; and then, in simple and tender pathos, 
they picture scenes of pastoral and domestic contentment 
and repose that gleam like sunshine amidst the shadows 
of a rich and varied landscape. 

The Hebrews, during the commonwealth, were some- 
times conquered, and their spirit of freedom temporarily 
subdued, but during that period they enjoyed long intervals 
of peace, prosperity and happiness and they were a 
brave and imperial race, and in moral and intellectual 
culture and social advancement were far ahead of other 
contemporary nations. Their subjugation was always a 
judgment of Jehovah for their sins and rebellion against 
the government which He had formed. When they 
returned to their sacred allegiance their spirit of freedom 
was revived and they were invested with irresistible 
strength and indomitable courage. 

We will refer to one incident in the history of the 
commonwealth which shows the poetical susceptibility of 
the Hebrews. 

They were subjugated by Jahin, king of Canaan, and 
his tyranny and power for a time subdued their spirit and 
they manifested but little disposition to 

"Strike for their altars and their fires, 
For God and their native land." 

But the poetic voice of Deborah, from beneath her 
palm tree dwelling, sounded like a slogan to the listless 
tribes and rallied them into an army of brave and stal- 
wart warriors, who rested not until they had won victory 
and freedom. The triumphal ode of Deborah is one of 
the grandest peans that ever rang in the ears of con- 
querors. She was well named " A Mother in Israel," as 
she knew how to rouse and nerve the hearts of her people 
to accomplish great and glorious deeds. 

We will not speak of the achievements of Gideon, 
Jephthah and Manoah's wondrous son, onrefer specially to 


the military exploits of that heroic age, briefly but 
graphically described in the Old Testament. We love 
not the poetry of battle and carnage, as it tells of human 
passions and strifes, of sufferings and sorrows. To us the 
martial notes of the trumpet and drum have no pleasing 
music, while we rejoice in the melody of "flutes and soft 
recorders" that breathe with the harmonies of pastoral 
and domestic joys, and our spirit is calmed into reverence 
and rapt devotion by the sweet, soft voice of sacred song. 

It is pleasant to leave the poetry of the battle field and 
contemplate a book that is full of the gentle and tender 
pathos of human life and pure affection. 

The book of Ruth is called, even by the mocking and 
scoffing Voltaire, " a gem of oriental history." It was 
the production of Samuel, the last of the Judges of Israel, 
and one of the purest, wisest and best men who adorn the 
records of the chosen people. His infant heart and mind 
were inspired by the pious teachings of the poetic and saintly 
Hannah. As a child prophet he talked with Jehovah, 
and his youthful imagination was illumined and beautified 
by the splendid ceremonial services of the tabernacle at 

The book of Ruth is one of the sweetest poems 
that ever was written. In the sacred canon it is placed 
between the narratives of the wars of the Judges and of 
the bloody and wicked period of the Kings. It is like a 
little star gleaming in quiet and silvery beauty between 
two storm clouds fierce with the thunder and gleaming 
with the lightning, or it may be compared to a soldier's 
song of home, heard by the bivouac fire in the solemn 
night, while he rests from a day of carnage, and dreams 
not of a yet more dreadful morrow. The incidents in this 
book occurred long before they were recorded, and existed 
as a legend in the homes of Palestine, and must have 
cheered and delighted the women of Israel when recited 
in social and domestic intercourse or on occasions of 


festivity and joy. The story is a pleasing - and pathetic 
idyl, and presents many lovely scenes of oriental primitive 
life. In it three charming characters are exquisitely 
delineated. We see Naomi driven by famine into the 
idolatrous country of Moab where she lost her husband, 
fortune and children. Her dark misfortunes of poverty 
and bereavement were lightened and brightened by calm 
resignation, and she poured all the wealth of her affections 
upon her gentle and devoted daughter-in-law. In Boaz 
we see a noble type of warm-hearted and generous 
manhood, ever ready to succor the weak, poor and sorrow- 
ing with the kindest courtesies and open-handed charity. 
With what tender sympathy and admiration do we 
contemplate the young, modest, trustful and beautiful 
Ruth leaving her kindred and country from a strong sense 
of filial duty, and that she might dwell beneath the 
sheltering wings of the Lord God of Israel. The scene 
between Naomi and her two daughters-in-law — as old, 
poor and bereaved, she was on her way to return to the 
land of Judah, friendless and alone — is full of simple and 
exquisite beauty, and excels in pathetic tenderness and 
loving devotion the immortal scene of the parting of 
Hector and Andromache at the Sceean gate when the 
peerless Trojan hero went forth to battle for the freedom 
and safety of his kindred and country. 

How instructing and encouraging are the simple 
recitals of Ruth's trials and "rich recompense of reward." 
The whole book is full and overflowing with poetry, and 
wakes the sweetest emotions in every heart that loves 
the gentle, tender and beautiful, and appreciates the joy 
and bliss of home. It may well be compared to a little 
fountain in a sequestered dell, surrounded with verdure 
and overhung with festooned leaves and flowers, and with 
gentle music ever pouring forth its pure, sweet and refresh- 
ing waters. The life history of every pure and holy woman 
is a beautiful poem. It may never be written on earth, 


but its sweetness will linger long in many loving hearts, 
and it will surely find its way to heaven and be recorded 
in the " Book of Life." 

The Book of Esther is usually associated in the mind 
of Bible readers with the Book of Ruth, as both contain 
histories of women whose names have given titles to 
books in the sacred canon. The book has always been 
highly esteemed by the Jews; and although it does not 
contain the name of God, they included it in the sacred 
canon as an important part of their history, in showing the 
providential dealings of God with their nation. I shall 
not refer to the various opinions which have been enter- 
tained by Biblical critics and expositors as to the claims 
of canonicity the author and the age when this book 
was written, as such questions are foreign to the purposes 
of my lectures. I only refer to it as evidence of a fact 
which I will hereafter more fully consider — that the spirit 
of Hebrew poetry became extinct soon after the Captivity. 
This book does not contain a single rhythmic line or poetic 
sentiment. It was evidently written by a Jew of post- 
exilian times, who had none of the poetic spirit of his 
ancestors. If the old poetic spirit had existed among the 
people the incidents recorded were well calculated to 
call forth the finest poetic sentiment and language. 
Esther was a remarkably beautiful and accomplished 
woman. She was elevated from a subject race to the 
throne of an empire which extended from the Indus 
to Ethiopia and contained one hundred and twenty-seven 
provinces; and her court blazed with all the splendors of 
oriental wealth and magnificence; and more than all, her 
exalted heroism and patriotism must have filled the 
hearts of her rescued people with devoted love, high 
admiration and the intense feelings of national pride, 
thankfulness and joy. These feelings must have existed, 
but the people had lost the spirit which glowed in the 
heart of Moses, sounded from the timbrels of Miriam, and 

i 4 8 

thrilled with melody David's harp and Isaiah's lyre. The 
subsequent history of Esther is unknown. She has a 
place in the Bible, but her name is not interwoven in the 
garlands of immortal song. What a striking contrast is 
presented in the history of Ruth, who lived in the pastoral 
and poetic age. She, too, was beautiful, but her beauty 
was of that simple and spiritual type that nestles with 
love in the inmost heart and breathes celestial harmonies. 
She was poor and an alien among an exclusive and 
clannish people, intensely proud of their lineage. And 
yet her life-history is the sweetest and tenderest idyl in 
the world's literature — from her sprang the royal and 
sacred line of David, and her name is enrolled in the 
immortal lineage of the Prince of Peace. 

The Book of Job is the most wonderful production in 
literature. Written in the wilderness, far back in the 
deep solitudes of time, it still remains unique and solitary 
in the world of letters. For more than thirty-five 
centuries it has stood in archaic majesty, like the pyramids 
in the silence and solitude of the desert, but ever gleaming 
with sunlight or with the splendors of unclouded night. 
This book is without a parallel in human literature, it is 
unimitated and inimitable. It is more than a parable or 
an allegory. It is a glowing history, a grand, inspired 
epic, intended to " vindicate the ways of God to man." 
The genius of the writer was not trammeled by ritualistic 
institutions, or artificial rules of composition, or by the 
manners and customs and prejudices of any particular 
form of national life. He was as free in thought as the 
air of his wild mountain home, and he breathed the simple 
and yet majestic spirit of a remote patriarchal age, and 
often rose to the highest strains of impassioned eloquence 
and poetry. The answer of the Lord to Job out of the 
whirlwind is the sublimest poem ever read by man. The 
grandest notes of the Cecilian organ would be but a poor 
accompaniment to that sublime anthem that once swelled 


out from the glittering bosom of the storm-cloud and 
mingled with the deep reverberating peals of the thunder. 
The poetic treasures of this book have been very 
elaborately considered by most writers upon Hebrew 
poetry. It contains sublime pictorial scenes and is full 
of the fire and magnificence of poetic thoughts that throb 
with energetic life and flow in rich cadences along the 
rhythmic lines. The inspired genius of the writer sweeps 
through eternity, its range is as wide as the universe and 
seems to penetrate celestial infinitude and catch the" 
music of the stars as in rejoicing march they move along 
their serene pathways in everlasting splendors. 

The limits of this lecture will not allow me to linger 
amidst the gorgeous imagery and oriental splendors of 
this book. The author is unknown. The age in which 
he lived and the grave where he was buried cannot be 
marked out, but his production is an enduring monument 
of his genius and wisdom; and the consolations and joys 
which he has given to sorrowing and suffering humanity 
will hallow his name in eternal remembrance. His genius 
will ever be held in admiration by men of cultivated 
tastes for its suggestiveness and richness. It is higher 
and bolder than any other human effort. Its daring 
flight may be compared to that of the eagle which builds 
its nest upon the mountain crag, looks with undazzled 
eye on the brightness of the sun, and in the gladness of 
freedom and power, mounts above the clouds, and on 
strong unwearied wings moves in safety upon the storm, 
or in far, rapid flight sweeps over the deserts and the seas. 


The Psalms. The Song of Songs. Proverbs, 

We feel constrained by the fascination of the subject 
to dwell at some length upon the character and poetry 
of David. He may well be called the sweetest singer of 
Israel. His history itself is a wonderful poem, full of 
striking, varied and brilliant incidents. We see him first 
as a shepherd boy guarding his father's flock in the quiet 
valleys of Bethlehem, and then bowing before the 
venerable prophet and judge to receive on his young brow 
the consecrated annointing oil of sovereignty; then as a 
youthful warrior, with stone and sling, winning the 
deliverance of his people when the bravest in Israel had 
faltered; then he is the son-in-law and poet-laureate of 
his king; then a fugitive, wandering in the wilderness of 
Engedi and hiding in desert caves; then we see him on 
the throne, surrounded by wise counselors, ruling over 
the united kingdom, and, under the lion banner of the 
tribe of Judah, his great captains lead victorious 
armies into the rock fortresses of Edom, and storm 
through the breached walls of Rabbath-Ammon; and 
then, with rent robes, uncovered head and bleeding feet, 
we see him weeping and flying from his home before his 
traitorous and ungrateful son. 

His domestic life presents as many beautiful scenes and 
strange contrasts as his public career. He exhibited the 
highest genius and chivalry, the loftiest patriotism and 
purest friendship, the noblest emotions and most tender 
sympathies and affections; and then he was guilty of 
duplicity, ingratitude and the darkest vices and crimes. 


But the defects of his character are like spots upon the 
sun; and in the splendor of his genius, the elevation of 
his piety, the nobility of his soul and in the deep sincerity 
of his penitence, we forget the errors and weaknesses of 
his humanity and hail him as one of the noblest and 
grandest of the sons of men, and acknowledge him as 
worthy of his high renown and the favor of God. 

Although in the poems of his life-history there is such 
a commingling of brightness and shadow the poems of 
his genius are sacred and immortal. The harp he loved 
so well and touched so skilfully had a wide compass of 
tone; sometimesswellingin strains of the highest grandeur, 
then ringing with exultant and joyous harmonies, and then 
breathing out the low, sweet, tremulous notes of humility, 
love and penitence. 

We will not attempt anything like a critical analysis 
of the Psalms, or make selections from their storehouse 
of poetic beauties and abounding heart-treasures. We 
will take only a brief synthetic view of their literary 
excellencies and refer to some of their most obvious and 
general characteristics. 

They were written by various authors during different 
ages of the Hebrew state, and are a condensed history 
of the political, social and religious opinions and feelings 
of that people. As David composed a large number of 
these national and religious songs, which are so eloquent 
and spiritual in language and sentiment, and collected- 
others that were in existence during his reign and adapted 
them to the temple service, the whole collection is often 
styled the Psalms of David. He was certainly a prince 
among his lyrical brethren, and these spiritual productions 
of inspiration and genius could scarcely be honored with 
a nobler name. 

The Book of Psalms in the Hebrew is styled the "Book 
of Praises," and is justly entitled to that appellation, as 
it is full of ascriptions of goodness, mercy, power 


majesty and dominion to Jehovah. It is also full of 
expression of pathos, social and domestic love, lofty 
patriotism, sublime thought and glowing sympathy with 
the scenery and varied voices of nature. We will not 
compare them with those divine and inimitable messages 
of Him who spake as never man spake, but with these 
exceptions, the Psalms are the sweetest, purest and 
richest offerings of thought, emotion, reverence and adoring 
love that the human mind and heart have ever brought 
to Jehovah's footstool. 

The Psalms are as comprehensive and varied as the 
feelings and emotions of human life — they are the very 
breathings of the soul. In them may be found every 
species of Hebrew poetry, and they are remarkably rich 
in beautiful imagery and illustrations taken from nearly 
every object in nature, and from nearly every condition of 
life. They may be compared to a harp of numerous 
strings, differing in tone, and touched with various 
fingers, and yet no discordant notes mingle with their 
combined and multitudinous melodies. They are said to 
contain "the whole music of the human heart swept by 
the hand of its Maker." 

Bishop Home says, "The Psalms are an epitome of 
the Bible adapted to the purposes of devotion," and they 
are full of the prophetic light and glory of the Gospel. 
The Psalms are the voices of the ancient Church, in 
which are uttered its gladness and its glory, its penitence 
and its griefs, its hopes and its praises. They are still 
the voices of the Church of God. The various denom- 
inations of Christendom may differ as to the doctrinal 
teachings of the Bible, and as to the rites and ceremonies 
cf worship, but all, with harmonious consent, adopt the 
Psalms as the voices of Christian life. They constitute 
a bond of Christian union — sacred and immortal — binding 
the Churches into a grand catholic unity. They also 
link Christian hearts with the sympathetic chords of 


memory, with the glorious men of the old dispensation, 
and thus perpetuate a vital spiritual union between the 
living and the dead of God's children which will be con- 
tinued in all succeeding generations, and thus form a 
connection between the Church Militant and the Church 

I cannot refrain from referring to two familiar facts 
which especially hallowed and glorified the Psalms with 
celestial radiance and the beauty of holiness. They are 
full of prophecies of our Saviour and foreshadowed his 
Gospel, but those are not their highest glory. He sang 
one with his disciples at the sad and loving communion of 
the first Lord's Supper, and with his dying breath, and in the 
hour of his deepest humiliation and agony, he uttered a 
sentence of the Psalms from the cross. These were their 
crowning glories. Need I say more of their spiritual 
beauties ? I will make a general summary. They were 
inspired by the Holy Spirit, breathed through the lips of 
holy men — thus mingling divinity with humanity; they 
were illumined with the light of evangelical prophecy and 
sanctified with exceeding glory by the approval of our 
Saviour. Thus they were consecrated and fitted to pre- 
pare Christian hearts for the trials, sorrows and joys of 
earthly life, and then to join in the heavenly songs and 
hallelujah's of the angels and seraphim as they touch 
their golden harps in the eternal realms of glory. 

As literary productions, judged by the standards of 
human excellence, we think that we can truthfully say 
that the Psalms, taken all in all, are the sweetest, the 
tenderest and most sublime lyrics to be found in literature? 
and they have exerted the highest and holiest influences 
upon the happiness, culture and progress of mankind. 
There is no poetry like the Psalms. They have a living 
beauty and depth of pathos which can never be excelled 
and will always wake the highest and holiest harmonies 
of the human heart. They indeed are immortal. The 


Iliad, the ALneid, the Divina Commedia and the Paradise 
Lost are as immortal as human language, but when they 
perish the Psalms will be sung by the angels and redeemed 
ones in Paradise, for they are the songs of God. For 
more than a thousand years they were the glory of Zion 
and made glad the City of the Great King. In the 
magnificent temple service how grandly did they swell in 
choral joy as they mingled with the music of psaltery and 
harp swept by the hands of Korah's tuneful sons. They 
fired the genius of the ancient prophets as they poured 
forth their sublime rhapsodies to rebellious Israel and 
disobedient Judah. They gladdened the solitude of the 
simple Hebrew shepherd as he led his flock through the 
green pastures and beside the still waters of his heaven- 
blest land, and the dark-eyed daughters of Zion knew no 
sweeter minstrelsy than that which the royal minstrel 
sang. They called up sweet memories and bright hopes 
in the sad hearts of the captive Israelites, as weeping they 
sat by the dark waters of Babel, and in secret tuned their 
plaintive harps to sing one of the loved songs of their 
fatherland. When the great Macedonian conqueror came 
sweeping like a besom of distruction over the decaying 
empires of the East, these sacred songs were soon trans- 
lated into the beautifully poetic language of Greece, and 
were scattered like precious gems over all the nations of 
the Orient. They were the admiration of the disbelieving 
Gentile, and roused the patriotic pride and religious zeal 
of the self-exiled Jew in the land of the Ptolemies, among 
the classic groves of Greece and amid the proud palaces 
and temples of the seven-hilled city of the Tiber. 

The Psalms often engaged the attention of Christ and 
his disciples as they held holy converse in the wilderness 
and on the mountains of Judea, and while wandering 
among the fruitful valleys of Samaria and the Jordan, 
while preaching and working miracles in the towns and 
cities of Galilee, and resting on the bosom of Genesareth 


as she slept in beauty beneath her sunbright or starry 
skies, or while their little vessel was tossed in fury by the 
angry and crested waves. They were the cradle songs 
that cheered the infant Church — they were the martyr's 
chant in the bloody amphitheatre and rose to heaven 
amidst the wild and cruel shouts of heathen persecutors. 
They sounded like blest spirit voices through Mediaeval 
darkness and they were the vesper and matin hymns of 
the pious Waldenses in their mountain temples. They 
kindled the enthusiasm of the chivalric crusader as he 
pressed through the arrows of the pestilence and the 
storm of battle to the rescue of the Holy Sepulchre. They 
were the defiant notes of the bold Reformers while they 
roused Europe from spiritual lethargy and disregarded the 
pealing thunders of the Vatican. In wild and thrilling 
cadences they echoed from the glens and caverns of 
Scotland, where the stern Covenanters, fearing naught 
but God, were preparing to die for the purity and sanctity 
of their faith; and they were the paeans of the iron 
veterans of Cromwell, as in victory they trod the battle- 
fields of freedom. They were the farewell strains of the 
Pilgrim Fathers as they left their kindred and country, 
and in holy raptures they rose from the deck of the May- 
flower as she breasted the wintry billows of the stormy 
Atlantic, and they broke the stillness of the American 
wilderness and hallowed the land of our fathers. 

The Psalms have been heard amidst the icy palaces of 
the frozen North where the Aurora-Borealis continually 
is glowing; in the distant isles of the tropic seas where 
evergreen woodlands bud and blossom beneath the path- 
way of the sun; and they have often cheered and 
strengthened the weary pilgrim amidst the silence and 
solitude of the desert. Like angel visitants, with glad 
music on their wings, they have entered the stately homes 
of the great and the humble cottages of the poor, and 
illumined with heavenly radiance the fading eyes of dying 

1 5 6 

saints. They have nerved the heart of the suffering 
Christian heroin his lonely dungeon and sustained fainting 
martyrs at the fiery stake. 

They have expressed the deepest emotions of wor- 
shipers in the mosques of Islam, the Churches of 
Christendom and the secret chambers of penitence and 
prayer. They have been attuned to the noblest melodies 
of earth; have been associated with the purest affections 
and dearest memories of home, and everywhere have been 
the language of the human heart as it poured forth its 
earnest longings and brightest hopes of heaven. 

The Psalms have been translated into more than two 
hundred different languages; have added beauty and 
vitality to all Christian literature, and they are the sacred 
fountains from which great bards have drank the inspiring 
waters which made them immortal and gave to their 
genius the magic power that thrilled the mystic strings 
of the human heart. 

Wherever the foot of civilized man has trod the path" 
ways either of ambition or commerce these olden songs 
have gone with their consolations and joys and conferred 
more precious treasures than wealth or fame. They have 
gone even further than man's greed for power and gain, they 
have been borne by Christian missionaries and exerted their 
divine influences in pestilential climes and savage wilds 
where the light of civilization has scarcely shone. Like 
the sunshine and dews of heaven they seem to have fallen 
on nearly every land of the earth. 

Although the Psalms have passed through the revolu- 
tions and changes of three thousand years, which have 
wrecked nearly all the productions and memorials of 
man's pride, intellect and ambition, they have in spirit 
much of the vitality and freshness which they had when 
they first gushed from the hearts and minds of the old 
Hebrew bards among the beautiful hills and valleys of the 
Promised Land. We fully believe that the time will come 


at no distant day when these songs of Zion will be heard 
in every home and every tongue will sing their praises 
unto Israel's God. 

How profusely has the prolific and inspired genius of 
Solomon scattered the treasures of wisdom and the gems 
of poesy over the sacred page. The " Song of Songs" 
was evidently written in youth, when the heart of the 
poet was full of the exhuberant love and joyousness of 
innocent life. It is a paradisaical idyl breathing the loves 
of the pure in heart. Among the Jews and in the 
Christian Church it has been regarded as an allegorical 
representation of the mystic union and tenderness existing 
between Jehovah and Israel- — Christ and his Church. It 
is also supposed to be an image of Eden before sin had 
entered its hallowed precincts and marred its heavenly 
beauty. Where the first human pair dwelt in hymeneal 
bliss; where the soft and gentle North wind and South 
wind caused the odors ,of spices to flow out; where the 
gladsome fountains and murmuring groves joined in cease-? 
less and harmonious concert, and the little throats of the 
singing birds were almost bursting with melody, and the 
sunlight was sporting with joy over green lawns, luscious 
fruits, blooming flowers and sparkling musical waters, 
while the voice of God uttered continual benedictions. 

This book is the most complete and artistic poem in the 
Bible and it is by far the most mystical. It differs some- 
what in thought and style from all the other books of the 
sacred canon. We' will not attempt to expound its spiritual 
meaning and purposes. Upon these questions we accept 
the general opinion of the Church without objection. As 
a literary production this book is full of rhythm and the 
choicest poetic imagery. ,;N.ature is presented in the 
richest and loveliest garbe of spring, and abounding in 
everything calculated to contribute to the exquisite enjoy- 
ments of refined and elegant tastes, and the persons 
represented are high ideals of gracefulness, symmetry and 

r 5 8 

beauty animated in their endearments and caresses by a 
tender, pure and delicate love. It well deserves the title 
given it in the Hebrew language, which signifies " The 
most beautiful song." 

The Book of Proverbs contains some of the precious 
thoughts and experiences of the Hebrew people, collected 
and arranged into beautiful literary mosaics by the inspired 
genius of Solomon. The Hebrews were " a kingdom of 
priests and a holy nation" unto the Lord, and His spirit 
dwelt among them and sanctified their hearts and enlight- 
ened their minds with divine thoughts and holy emotions, 
that were expressed in social and religious intercourse in 
beautiful and appropriate language. We fully believe that 
God inspired the writers of the Bible as special messengers 
for communicating His revealed word to mankind, but we 
also believe that His Holy Spirit has, in every age, dwelt 
among His believing people, illumining their minds and 
hearts with holy thoughts and emotions, which have been 
expressed in language approved by Him. As God, in 
providence is ever sowing the germs of trees, flowers and 
verdure in the natural world, which His messengers and 
agents — the light, rain, dews and other forces — are con- 
tinually rearing into fruitfulness, bloom and fragrance 
tr the delight and enjoyment of mankind; we may well 
believe that His Holy Spirit has in every age illumined 
the minds and hearts of His people with thoughts and 
expressions of beauty and holiness that come from the 
heavenly home to cheer and to bless. We are taught to 
pray for the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit in 
our thoughts, words and actions. 

There are many productions in Christian literature, and 
many songs used in the church service which elevate and 
brighten our faith and devotion and fill our hearts with 
holy raptures, and why may we not believe that these 
productions of saintly men sprang from divine illumination 
and were not the mere creations of human genius ? We 


believe that the Book of Proverbs was written and 
arranged under the guidance of divine inspiration and 
contains many of the maxims of Hebrew wisdom and 
experience, the products of the popular mind influenced 
by the Holy Spirit. 

The proverbial style was very common among the 
Hebrews, and is an evidence of their quick mental and 
moral perceptions and energy of thought. We find this 
style of composition in the Apocryphal Books the Talmud 
and other Rabbinical writings of a subsequent age. 

The Book of Proverbs is one of the most instructive 
and polished books in the Old Testament. Its language 
is terse and elegant and full of the beauties of poetry. 
Its teachings have been apt and forcible in every age and 
in every language, as they are full of truth and well adapted 
to the various conditions of human life, and have conferred 
inestimable blessings upon mankind. 

All nations have their proverbs, expressing with beauty 
and force, social, political and moral truths applicable to 
the intercourse of men in the various walks of life and 
their wisdom is sanctioned by human experience. Many 
of them are the productions of men of genius and sages, 
while others float like waifs on the currents of popular 
feeling and intelligence, and cannot be traced to the indi- 
vidual minds and circumstances from which they sprang. 

Most of the precious metals used by mankind were 
extracted from rude and shapeless ores taken with great 
labor and skill from quartz, slate and granite veins in deep 
mines, but many precious gems and grains and nuggets 
of gold have been accidentally found by the wayside, in 
sequestered valleys and in rivulets and streams. The 
great mass of human knowledge and wisdom has been 
accumulated by the patient and laborious study and 
investigations of sages and philosophers, but in proverbial 
and poetic literature we often find brilliant intellectual 
gems and many treasures of knowledge which unknown 

1 66 

sons of genius placed in the wide fields of human thought. 
Some of the finest thoughts and expressions in che litera- 
ture of every nation are the spontaneous products of the 
minds and hearts of the people in the ordinary intercourse 
of social and domestic life. They are the amber, pearls 
and grains of gold which the strong and restless ocean of 
popular feeling and sentiment has thrown up from its 
depths and cast upon the shore, and they were collected 
by men of taste and genius and skilfully inwrought into 
the rich texture of literature. Upon careful examination 
it will be found that many national proverbs which teach 
moral, social and political truths derived much of their 
wisdom, vitality, epigrammatic force and beauty from the 
influence of the old Hebrew mind. 

From this brief and imperfect consideration of some of 
j-he books of the Old Testament may we not well conclude 
that they are worthy of our constant and careful study, 
even as literary productions, as they contain so much 
bright, pure, sublime and beautiful language, imagery and 


The Prophecies. 

In the course of our investigations in Hebrew poetry 
we have reached the books of the Prophets, and a very 
cursory examination w;ll show that they are highly 
poetical and full of impassioned eloquence and grandeur of 
imagery. Before separately considering these books we 
will briefly refer to the characters of the Prop het bards 
and the circumstances by which they were surrounded 
and influenced, for the purpose of showing that there 
existed many natural causes well calculated to elevate 
and intensify their genius. 

In the sacred history of Israel we find many persons 
who had the gift of prophecy and gave utterance to 
sublime thoughts in language highly poetical. We find 
a striking instance in Baalam, the son of Beor. He 
seems to have had some knowledge of the true God, 
derived from the old patriarchal dispensation, but he 
had mingled with this religious belief the superstitions of 
pagan idolatry. His prophecy is one of the most elegant 
and beautiful pieces of poetic composition to be found in 
any literature. It flowed from his unwilling lips under 
the influence of divine inspiration and was recorded by 
Moses, and the style may have received some of its 
glow and brilliancy from the inspired genius of the great 
poet and lawgiver. We forbear to make reference to the 
utterances of some other prophets mentioned in the Old 
Testament, as we desire to confine our attention to the 
productions of those writers who strictly belong to the 
" goodly fellowship of the Prophets." They were chosen 
by God as instruments to explain some of his dealings 

1 62 

in the past and reveal, to some extent, His will, His 
plans and purposes in the future government and salva- 
tion of His spiritual Isreal. 

The roll of the prophet writers was opened about the 
reign of Uzziah, and at that time the condition of the 
tribes of Israel was well calculated to excite in the mind 
of a patriotic Hebrew painful solicitude and apprehension 
for the future welfare of his nation. The tribes had long 
been divided into the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and 
were discordant and beligerent; and being thus weakened 
by internal disorders and dissensions the country 
was often wasted by civil wars and the invasions of 
neighboring nations. The people had also greatly 
degenerated in moral and religious character, and were 
yielding to the corrupting influences of paganism. 

The Prophets were pure and high-toned patriots and 
all the energies and faculties of their minds and hearts 
were aroused in the effort to save their beloved country 
from impending ruin. Thus their genius and affections 
were kindled to the brightest glow as they pleaded with 
their erring and wayward countrymen and denounced 
their cruel enemies. 

There are two words in the Hebrew language of nearly 
synonymous import which are often used to designate the 
prophet, and in our language signifies " One who sees." 
The Prophets might well be called seers for magnificent 
visions of the past, the present and the future were by 
the inspiration^ of God presented to their spiritual intui- 
tion. They may not have understood the full import of 
the divine communications and the scope of the visions 
they witnessed, but under the guidance of the Holy 
Spirit they described the scenes with the highest poetic 
vividness. The contemplation of such scenes must have 
had great influence in enlarging their minds as they 
ranged through an extensive field of vision. They saw 


the connection and continuity of time — the past, the 
present and the future. They beheld God in histroy and 
prophecy working out wondrous plans, all connected and 
controlled by a general purpose. We can look back and 
see what has been accomplished. We know that the 
waves which the ancient nations started on the great 
ocean of human existence have continued to roll ever 
onward, and we can well believe that they will never 
cease until they break on the shores of eternity when 
time shall be no more. But the Prophets saw many of 
these events in the womb of the future. In the light of 
history we will refer to some of the scenes and events 
with which the Prophets were familiar or saw in the 
vivid visions of prophecy. 

During the period of Hebrew national life the great 
oriental monarchies performed their part in the wondrous 
drama of universal history. There was Egypt in the 
pride of her power — even then hoary with age, without 
its decrepitude and decay, rich in the annals and accumu- 
lations of centuries, the cradle of human civilization — 
the fountain of philosophy, science and art; covered with 
splendid cities and those stupendous monuments of 
human enterprise, energy and skill, which even in ruins, 
have astounded with their magnitude and magnificence 
the most enlightened nations of the modern world. 

In the East were Nineveh and Babylon, the magnificent 
emporiums of the Mesopotamian valley, with hundreds 
of palaces and temples " shining in silver and gold, as 
splendid as the sun"; surrounded with well-watered 
orchards, vineyards, gardens and meadows sparkling in 
beauty and fertile in abundance. In territorial extent 
these cities were almost kingdoms, and were enclosed 
with extensive, massive and lofty walls surmounted with 
more than a thousand strong towers. They were filled 
with an intelligent and busy population: they received 


tribute from the submissive nations of a continent; 
their armies were almost countless and were strengthened 
by discipline and repeated conquests; statements of their 
wealth and magnificence seem fabulous, and many of 
the structures which they reared were regarded as among 
the wonders of the world. They had histories venerable 
for antiquity and rich in intellectual achievements and 
martial renown, and they could trace their line of kings 
almost to the Deluge. The stories of these two empire 
cities read like the extravagant fictions of an oriental 
dream. There the descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth 
separated to re-people the flood-swept world, and there 
the Chaldean magi first with intelligent eyes mapped 
out the constellations, tracked the planets in their courses, 
pointed out the beauties of the earth's zodiacal girdle, 
and read some of the mysteries and eloquence of the 
radiant stars. They are to us the lands of ruins, mystery, 
poetry and old romance, and they must in their power 
and glory have been wondrous to the shepherds of 

On the Southern border of the Holy Land the wild 
sons of Ishmael were fulfilling their prophetic destiny, and 
were roaming over the deserts in that unrestrained free- 
dom that was ever to remain unconquerable by man or 
time. There too the stern children of Edom carved their 
fortresses and temples in the bosom of the mountains and 
built their dwellings among the cliffs of the rocks, on the 
eyries of the eagles. 

To the North beneath the shadows of Lebanon the 
queenly cities of Tyre and Sidon sat in sumptuous mag- 
nificence by the sea. They had planted industrious and 
prosperous colonies on every shore of the Mediterranean, 
and their stately triremes had gathered wealth from the 
" Isles of the Gentiles, " and in adventurous commercial 
enterprise had sailed beyond the pillared gates of the 

i6 5 

distant Atlantic. They had sent their cunning craftsmen 
and skilled artisans to rear the grand structures of religion, 
pride, wealth and ambition in every land and fill them 
with the beautiful productions of imitative art; while their 
merchant princes, robed in purple and fine linen, spent 
their hours of repose in elegantly adorned palaces and 
gardens, and lavished treasures in the excesses of voluptu- 

I will not refer at any length to the giant structures of 
Bashan, Moab and Amnion, or to the five cities of warlike 
Philistia — rich from abundant harvests and from their 
extensive commerce with the "spicy shore of Arabie 
the blest." 

All these nations and peoples were, at times, the 
enemies and oppressors of Israel, and the Prophets fore- 
saw their coming doom. They saw in visions the fierce 
legions of the Persians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the 
Romans, the Saracens and the Ottomans sweep in 
desolating course over the fertile valley of the Nile — 
leaving no vestige of old Egypt's greatness and glory 
but Titanic ruins and the time-defying pyramids They 
saw Nineveh, the metropolis of the Orient, encompassed 
by the relentless Medes; then the gates of the river 
opened and dissolved her walls; then her proudest palace 
became a vast funeral pyre that consumed the last of 
her kings; then her nobles were dwelling in the dust and 
her people were scattered on the mountains. Then they 
saw her for centuries lying in desolation and " dry like a 
wilderness." " Flocks lie down in the midst of her." 
" Hawks and crows nestle in her ruined battlements. " 
" The cormorant and bittern lodge in her upper lintels 
and sing in the windows. " Then the agencies of nature 
and time slowly cover her grave of oblivion where she 
sleeps for twenty-five hundred years, when an English- 
man "uncovers her cedar work, " excavates her palaces 


and reveals her sculptured history to an astonished world 
and confirms the truth of divine prophecy. 

With what graphic power and gorgeous imagery do the 
prophets describe their panoramic visions of the down- 
fall of " The Golden City." "The glory of kingdoms and 
the beauty of the Chaldee's excellence." When we read 
Isaiah's description of the approach of Cyrus with his 
multitudinous army, collected from all nations, we can 
almost hear the rush of the chariots, the trampling of the 
horses, and the tread of the legions as they gather to 
the harvest of death. "The noise of a multitude in 
the mountains like as a great people, a tumultuous noise 
of the kingdoms, of nations gathered together, the Lord 
of hosts mustereth the hosts of battle." Then came 
the disastrous overthrow. When the brightly lighted 
festal halls of Babylon were ringing with shouts and 
songs of sinful revelry, a mysterious hand wrote the 
sentence of doom on the wall before Belshazzar and his 
courtiers; then from the bed of the river the furious 
Persians and Medes pour like waves of fire over her 
palaces and homes. Her gates of brass are broken in 
pieces and her iron bars cut asunder, and the hidden 
treasures of secret places become the spoils of conquest. 
" A sword is upon the Chaldeans and upon the inhabi- 
tants of Babylon and upon her princes and upon her 
wise men," and they are dismayed and "become as 
women." For several centuries afterwards Babylon was 
a beacon-light among the nations, sometimes glowing in 
brightness, but at last every spark of glory died in ashes 
and she became a heap of ruins, where not even the 
wilg! Arabs pitch their tents or the shepherds fold their 

I will only allude to the prophetic doom of Edom, so 
long buried in the silence and desolation of her mountain 
grave. I will not attempt to trace the glory and the 


gloom mingled in the history of Tyre — the city of ten 
thousand masts, until she sank beneath the waves upon 
which her proud navies had ridden in commercial triumph. 
She became a place where the fishermen dry their nets. 
*' A mournful silence now prevails along the shore which 
once resounded with the world's debate." Many of the 
visions of prophecy have become the facts and truths of 

Need I dwell longer in showing that the Hebrew 
prophetic bards were surrounded by circumstances and 
were gifted with visions well calculated to develop the 
highest poetic enthusiasm ? If the story of Troy and 
the valiant Greeks created the splendid diction and 
imagery of the Iliad, can we be surprised that the 
magnificent visions of prophecy should have filled the 
minds and hearts of the Prophet bards with sublime and 
glorious thoughts and images which under divine inspira- 
tion bursted forth in rapturous song ? 

While the books of the Prophets were so full of rich 
language, sublime thought and vivid imagery, they were 
in their teachings to the people the most obscure portions 
of their literature. This obscurity necessarily resulted 
from the nature of prophecy. God did not intend to 
make the future as luminous as the past. He gave only 
glimpses of His divine purposes that His people might 
ever be in a condition of earnest expectancy and hope 
and have their faith in Him brightened and strengthened 
as He evolved His wondrous plans. The prophecies to 
the spiritual perceptions of the Hebrew people were like 
the bright and ever-shining stars in the firmament to 
their natural vision as they gleamed in surrounding 
darkness. As to unaccomplished prophecies the Chris- 
tian world is in the same condition. We cannot understand 
their meaning untilGod sees proper to unfold His purposes. 

The astronomer with his telescope can range through 


the heavens and catch the light of distant planets and 
stars and discover some of the general laws which reg- 
ulate their motion, but he can never see their full orbed 
splendors or attain that infinite knowledge which will 
enable him to understand fully the celestial mechanism 
of ttie universe; to bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, 
loose the bands of Orion, bring forth Mazzaroth in his 
season, or guide Arcturus with his sons. We know that 
the heavenly hosts in their revolving motions are directed 
by some great central force which God comprehends 
and controls for His own glory. 

Thus, while we read and partially comprehend and 
appreciate the grand truths and magnificent imagery of 
the prophecies, we will not attempt to solve the mysteries 
they present, which have so long bewildered the minds of 
learned and earnest men. " Canst thou by searching 
find out God ; canst thou find out the Almighty unto 
perfection." The Prophets were spokesmen for God, and 
although we cannot fully understand all His utterances, 
we know that they are true and righteous. Modern 
science may mislead many earnest investigators after 
truth, and entangle them in the ingenious cobwebs of its 
sophestries, but we hope ever to read the Bible with the 
sincere veneration of a devout worshiper and the simple, 
undoubting confidence of a child. 

We will only glance at the literary excellencies of the 
prophecies and be content with the spiritual beauties 
which they display to the eye of an humble faith. 

The images of other poets are the tapestries of fancy 
woven in the aerial loom of genius, while the visions of 
the Prophet bards were vivid glimpses of grand realities 
gleaming with the light of inspiration. 

A striking characterestic of the Prophet bards is inten- 
sity of thought and passionate purpose. The ordinary 
wordjfor Prophet in the Hebrew language signifies "to 


boil up or gush out like a fountain." The minds and 
hearts of the Prophets were not trickling, but gushing 
fountains, from which have flowed streams which have 
made glad the city of God. We have often thought that 
there was something grand and imposing in the person- 
nel of Elijah and Isaiah which inspired veneration and 
awe. Their faces must have beamed and their eyes have 
glowed with celestial light as they uttered their eloquent 
and impassioned messages to their erring countrymen. 
They walked so closely with God that they must have 
caught some of the light of His glory. We know that the 
face of Moses shone with exceeding brightness when he 
came down from Mount Sinai with the tables of the law; 
and we also know that the face of St. Stephen, transfigured 
by the glorious faith that burned in his soul, " shone like 
the face of an angel." But upon this subject the word of 
God is silent, and we have only a few allusions to the 
personal characters of these wondrous Prophets. 

The progress of human destiny has been principally 
developed by two distinctive classes of men, great think- 
ers and great actors. We might select from the annals 
of man many examples of each class, but in doing so we 
would only present lists of immortal names with which 
you are familiar. The great actors occupy the most 
prominent place in written history, as the results which 
they accomplished were more immediate, striking and 
eventful. But the attentive student of history will not 
fail to observe that the great thinkers originated, discov- 
ered or combined those important political, intellectual, 
moral, social and physical truths and principles which 
produced revolutions in States, advancement in science 
and glory in art, and gave force, energy and power to 
great actors. Electricity silently and imperceptibly 
gathers in the clouds and sends forth the thunder-bolts. 
The Cyclopean forces in nature that work in the deep 
cavern laboratories of the earth create the earthquake 

l 7° 

and pour out the fiery streams of the volcano. They 
have changed the boundaries of continents, furrowed the 
earth with deep valleys and upheaved the everlasting hills. 
We often find great actors possessing great intellect, but 
their thoughts were suggested by sudden emergencies and 
were required for immediate operations. But abstract 
thinkers in solitude work out and bring to light in proper 
connection and continuity the fundamental truths and 
principles that permanently affect human action and 
guide and control the various elements of civilization. 

Cromwell was a great actor and practical thinker, and 
elevated England to the front rank among nations, but 
the truths and principles that enlightened his mind, 
nerved his heart and strengthened his arm, sprang from 
the brains and hearts of Luther, Calvin, Knox and Milton, 
and were by them derived from the Bible. Cromwell 
died and his dynasty passed away, but the truths and 
principles promulgated by the great thinkers of Prot- 
estantism lie at the foundation of civil and religious 
freedom and are the intellectual and moral motive powers 
of advancing civilization. 

The French revolution was a grand political and moral 
volcano, produced by the struggles between antagonistic 
elements of thought which great thinkers had infused 
into French society. Napoleon Boneparte was thrown 
to the surface by the convulsive throes of human passion 
and strife, and he had the mental power and physical 
courage to guide for a time the desolating streams of fire 
and blood that swept over the face of Europe; but he 
died a captive, far from his native land, in a lonely island, 
beneath skies that never spread their glorious beauties 
over France, and the wild winds alone sang his requiem 
as they swept the harp of the melancholy ocean: but 
the great truths and principles of civil and intellectual 
freedom still live and shake the thrones, principalities 
and powers of Europe. Brave and experienced generals 

may marshal armies on fields of carnage, and conquer 
kingdoms which they have deluged with blood and tears, 
but it is the student, the philosopher, the school master, 
the minister of God and the enlightened statesman who 
form aright public opinion and shape the destinies of 
States, and produce the glorious triumphs and perma- 
nent blessings of peace. 

In the fields of science and of intellectual culture the 
great thinkers have no rivals in influence and fame. 
Bacon, with the safety lamp of experiment, trod with firm 
and cautious steps through the unexplored labyrinths of 
science, and taught men how to follow his footsteps. He 
has well been called the Luther of science, as he led the 
human mind from the dark and tangled mazes of ancient 
and scholastic philosophy into the clear light, and pointed 
out the sure pathway to the shrines of scientific truth. 

Copernicus, Galileo and Newton won the trophies of 
knowledge and their immortal fame in the silent study 
where on the strong wings of thought their minds soared 
to the illimitable fields of the celestial world and brought 
down to earth the knowledge which they had learned 
amid the golden stars. I might mention Watt, Guttem- 
berg, Faust, Franklin, Fulton, Morse, and hundreds of 
great thinkers who have conferred inestimable treasures 
of knowledge upon the world. I will present no further 
illustrations. The facts are well established that thought 
is more powerful than force, "the pen is mightier than 
the sword." The great thinkers of the past are 

" The dead but sceptred sovereigns who sUll rule 
Our spirits trom their urns." 

The Hebrew law-givers, prophets and bards were the 
first great thinkers who started 

"Those thoughts that wander through eternity," 
and produced so many of the invaluable blessings of 


Christian civilization, and which now urge mankind 
onward to a higher, nobler and more spiritual life. 

The prophet bards were not only great thinkers, but 
they were the cheerful and exultant harbingers of the 
brightest hopes of humanity. In the midst of the moral 
darkness and misery that overshadowed the world they 
saw in the distant future the bright day of righteousness 
for all mankind. The first prophecy was uttered by God 
in Eden, and foretold a dark and sorrowful life for man, 
and it also contained the brightest hope of the world, 
which sheds its light over the succeeding ages. 

Through the whole period of Hebrew history this day 
star of hope cast its reviving and cheering light on the 
prophecies and seemed to glow with effulgent radiance in 
the writings of Isaiah. The Prophets were certainly the 
morning stars of human hope, as they sang together, and 
their songs were repeated in higher and holier strains in 
the "gloria in excelsis " of the heavenly hosts over the 
plains of Bethlehem at the birth of the Prince of Peace. 

There is some diversity of opinion as to the manner in 
which the Prophets received their divine communications 
and originally delivered them. In the Bible we find 
instances in which such communications were delivered 
by an audible voice, and sometimes in visions and in 
dreams. We are of the opinion that the Prophets had 
no fixed method of delivery. They spoke when and where 
God directed. Sometimes their messages were delivered 
orally and in the very ecstacies of inspiration. Sometimes 
they were carefully written and then promulgated. They 
were generally delivered in the courts of the temple, in 
the palaces of Kings and in the assemblies of the 
people. The books of the Prophets preserved in the 
sacred canon were carefully written by their authors 
under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. These books did 
not constitute a part of the ritual service of worship 
until a period long subsequent to the Captivity, but they 


were read and explained to the people by the priests and 
Levites and members of the Schools of the Prophets who 
were the religious instructors before the exile. The 
familiarity of the people with these sacred books must 
necessarily have promoted their intellectual and moral 
culture and operated powerfully upon their imaginations. 
No nation ever lived in such a condition of expectancy 
and hope as the Hebrews, and this feeling was increased 
by the prophet bards. They believed that they would 
not only receive the highest temporal and spiritual bless- 
ings for themselves, but that they were to be the divine 
agents for bestowing these rich beneficences upon all 
races and all times. 


The Prophets. 

We propose in this lecture briefly to refer to the 
productions of some of the chief singers in the grand 
prophetic choir. If we were asked to describe the Alps 
we would first allude to Mt. Blanc, the monarch of those 
mountains. Thus we will select Isaiah, the prince among 
the Prophets. He is properly styled the Evangelical 
Prophet, as he so harmoniously blends the revelations of 
the Old and New Dispensations. 

Among his brethren he was like Paul among the 
Apostles. He had a breadth of mental grasp that was 
superhuman, and his benign catholicity of feeling made 
him love all the races of men, even to the most distant 
future. He foresaw more clearly than any other prophet 
the remote age when there would be a brotherhood of 

" And they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, 
And their spears into pruning hooks, 
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, 
Neithtr shall they learn war any more: " 

A time when peace, truth, justice, freedom and uni- 
versal righteousness would exist in the grand community 
of races; and the will of God be "done on earth, even as 
it is done in heaven." 

Isaiah prophesied for more than sixty years, and yet there 
seems to have been no abatement in his genius. It shone 
forth as freshly and brilliantly when he was tremulous 
with age as it did when he spoke in all the enthusiasm 
and vehemence of youth. There is an incomparable 
dignity of sentiment and splendor of diction in his 
prophecies which have won the admiration even of scof- 


fing infidels. His sublimity of thought and imagery is 
truly magnificent. He invoked heaven and earth as the 
hearers of his divine messages, as if they were almost too 
grand for the contemplation of the human mind. In his 
inspired raptures he seems to have mounted on a chariot 
of fire and ascended to those rich fields of poetic thought 
which mortal foot never again will tread, as he left no 
mantle behind him to rest upon the shoulders of a suc- 
cessor. From those empyrean heights he surveyed the 
past and the illimitable future. He pictured not the mere 
ideal conceptions of genius, but the visions of grand 
realities as seen with the clear, strong eye of prophecy. 
Other poets wandered back through the dark vistas of 
the past to the treasure fields of poetry to gather the 
rich gems of thought and glowing pictures of the sublime 
and beautiful; but he stood upon the top of the mountain 
of the Lord and saw unveiled a grand panorama of com- 
ing events. He saw the dark doom of Israel, the Advent 
of the Messiah, the agonies of Gethsemane and the 
dread tragedy of Calvary when the Emaculate One was 
led like a lamb to the slaughter and opened not his 
mouth. He saw the Church as she stood with lofty 
heroism amidst the blood and fire of the martyr ages; 
as she struggled for existence through mediaeval ignor- 
ance, superstition and bigotry; and then the dawning 
brightness of future triumphs; and then in glorious per- 
spective down the long vista of the centuries caught 
glimpses of the splendid meridian day of Christ's millen- 
nial reign, and in such rapt moments heard the far off 
music of the songs which the Seraphim sing. How 
appropriately may we apply to this prophet one of his 
own glorious rhapsodies, " How beautiful upon the 
mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, 
that publisheth peace, that publisheth salvation; that 
saith unto Zion, thy God reigneth." 

The most gifted of human painters will never be able 


to copy correctly the dawning brightness of the morning, 
the gorgeous splendors of the evening, or the silvery 
beauty of the night, all glorious with moon, planets and 
stars. With his skilful pencil of art he cannot catch all 
the gleaming light and varying shades of the glowing 
landscape which God has spread out with infinite variety 
for the delight and enjoyment of His creatures. He can- 
not picture the terrific grandeur of the storm embroidered 
with the glittering arabesques of the lightning, the sub- 
limity of God's mountain temples, or the magnificence 
of the ocean in the splendors of its vastness and power. 
The works of God furnish instruction, guidance and 
models for human genius, and these works may be some- 
what imitated but never equalled. Thus it is with the 
poetry of Isaiah. It is a treasury filled with gems of 
thought and images of beauty that enrich the productions 
of genius, but can never be equalled by human effort. 
His lips were touched by the Seraphim with a live coal 
from off the altar. In style as well as thought this poetry 
is sublime and inimitable. It is like the swelling billows 
of the ocean that roll in liquid and crystal beauty and 
inspire the mind and heart with feelings of grandeur as 
they flow on to the distant and unseen shores in united 
strength, majesty and power. 


Nowhere within the range of human literature can be 
found such touching strains of grief, such pathos of 
sorrow as those which the mild and patriotic Jeremiah 
uttered while weeping over the desolation of Zion, and 
for the slain of the daughters of his people — " for the 
strong staff broken and the beautiful rod. " The life of 
this Prophet was full of sadness and misfortune. His 
gentle, tender, sensitive and loving spirit was subjected 
to the sorest trials. With intense devotion he loved his 
countrymen, and yet they treated him with the grossest 


indignities, scorn and cruelty. His country was torn 
asunder by internal disorders, and he foresaw but could 
not avert her impending doom. He witnessed the dese- 
cration and destruction of the magnificent temple, with its 
consecrated emblems and shrines and the Holy of Holies. 
With eyes that were a fountain of tears he beheld the 
beautiful city of his fathers, which had once been full of 
people and a princess among the nations as she sat in 
sackcloth and solitude upon her sacred mountains, mourn- 
ing for the sorrows and misfortunes of her captive and 
exiled children. The Lamentations are the weeping 
melodies of a broken heart whose shattered but still 
living strings vibrated with wailing agonies. They have 
well been called the cygnian strains of the old Hebrew 
muse before she sank into the silence of death amidst the 
ruins of Israel's freedom and glory. 


Ezekiel is usually and properly classed as one of the 
greater Prophets. He was truly the representative of the 
spirit of a great people in the hours of their sorest trials 
and adversities. He was among the first captives who 
were carried into exile and colonized on the river Chebar. 
Most of his prophecy was written in the interval between 
the capture of Jerusalem and the subsequent distruction 
of the temple of Solomon, which was the final overthrow 
of the old Hebrew nationality. In natural disposition 
and spiritual endowments he was a fine type of the 
Hebrew prophet and he devoted all the vigor and energy 
of his nature to his great work of instructing, consoling 
and guiding his fellow-countrymen. The character of 
his genius and style of composition is finely portrayed by 
Bishop Lowth: 

"Ezekiel is much inferior to Jeremiah in eloquence; 
in sublimity he is not even excelled by Isaiah; but his 
sublimity is of a totally different kind. He is deep, 

i 7 8 

vehement, tragical: the only sensation he affects to incite 
is the terrible; his sentiments are elevated, fervid, full of 
fire, indignant; his imagery is crowded, magnificent, 
terrific, sometimes almost to disgust; his language is 
pompous, solemn, austere, rough and at times unpolished; 
he employs frequent repetition, not for the sake of grace 
and elegance, but from the vehemence of passion and 
indignation. " 

Bishop Lowth regards Ezekiel as more of an orator 
than a poet. His writings are certainly deficient in the 
ease, grace, rythmical elegance and varied and pleasing 
imagery which distinguished the productions of the older 
Hebrew bards. His visions are described with a minute- 
ness of detail and sharpness of outline that is not usual 
in Hebrew poetry or the poetry of any other people. 
His grand, solemn and magnificent visions could not be 
depicted without some of the glow of poetry — but it 
shone like the iridescent spray of the cataract or the 
phosphorescent gleam of the strong ocean billows. 
Bishop Lowth remarked that " Isaiah, Jeremiah and 
Ezekiel, as far as relates to style, may be said to hold the 
same rank among the Hebrews, as Homer, Simonides 
and Eschylus among the Greeks. " 

Ezekiel is the last name on the roll of the great Hebrew 
bards and his strains peal forth like the notes of a trum- 
pet showing that his free spirit could never be enslaved. 
With lofty enthusiasm he revealed the dread doom of the 
enemies of Israel and the grand and glorious destinies of 
his nation and of future generations. The closing chap- 
ters of Ezekiel's prophecy, although, not poetical in 
structure and language, are highly poetical in imagery. 
His vision of the sanctuary, and of the mystical river 
that came from beneath the altar, and continued to 
widen and deepen as it flowed onward, healing the waters 
of the sea of death, fertilizing the desert, carrying life 
wherever it went and fringed with various trees of fadeless 


verdure and perpetual fruitage, glows with the finest 
spirit of poetry. The scene in many respects resembles 
that more gloriously beautiful vision of the celestial city 
in which the Angel of the Apocalypse showed unto the 
Beloved Desciple "a pure river of water of life, clear as 
crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the 
Lamb." Ezekiel was a noble prophet and patriot and 
his mind was filled with grand thoughts and sublime 
visions, but he did not always express them in the rhythmic 
elegance and beauty of poetry. 

The destruction of Solomon's temple with its sacred 
emblems and splendid and imposing ceremonial services 
seems to have terminated the golden age of Hebrew 
poetry. Its transient and flickering glow in after ages 
was like the gleam of radiance that is often seen on the 
face of the dying. The Captives carried the Hebrew lyre 
into exile, but no hand save Ezekiel's ever touched it s 
loftiest chords in the land of bondage. It hung in silence 
upon the willows, and sometimes in secret its plaintive 
melodies were awakened when the captives remembered 
Zion, told the tale of their sorrows and wept. Most of 
the Captives soon forgot the majestic and musical language 
which once sounded forth in choral gladness and gran- 
deur the high praises of Jehovah and the beautiful mem- 
ories and imagery of the Fatherland. 

Daniel was a wise and accomplished courtier and 
statesman, but he was not a poet. To him the future was 
largely revealed, but he looked upon such visions, not 
with the vivid enthusiasm of the poet, but with the calm, 
discriminating and reverential eye of a devout philoso- 
pher watching the progressive development of human 
destiny. When we compare the writings of Daniel and 
most of the book of Ezekiel with the productions of the 
older bards and prophets of Israel we are reminded of 
two of the schools of modern painting. The Flemish 
artists in their great productions depict natural objects 

i So 

and ideal conceptions with distinct and exact outlines 
which claim admiration for the skill and precision of art, 
but they excite none of those thrilling and elevating 
ecstacies which are felt while gazing at the softly beautiful 
landscapes of Claude, the graceful elegance and delicate 
finish of Correggio, the almost divine creations of Raphael 
and the morning glories and sunset splendors of Titian. 
Ezekiel, however, in some of his poetic raptures reminds 
the lover of art of the wild passion and stern grandeur of 
Michael Angelo. 

We will but briefly refer to the productions of the 
Minor Prophets who lived before the Captivity. They 
are called minor prophets on account of the brevity and 
not the inferiority of their writings. With the exception 
of Jonah they were all poets. Most of them were men 
of intellect and considerable culture for their age. Bishop 
Lowth says that even the prophet from the sheepfolds, 
in sublimity and magnificence of conception, and in 
splendor of diction was not inferior to any of his brethren. 
Their range of vision in the fields of prophecy was not 
as extensive as that of Isaiah, but what they saw was 
vivid and magnificent, and their genius was kindled into 
a beaming glow. They seem to have spoken very little 
to mankind, but they spake with tongues of fire in 

" Thoughts that breathe and words that burn. " 

Nahum deserves a separate and more particular refer- 
ence, as he was a poet of very high order. His ardent 
patriotism seems to have added vigor, boldness and 
sublimity to his genius, and elevated his strains. His 
" burden of Nineveh" is luminous with splendid imagery 
and rings out like a rapturous triumphal song in accom- 
paniment to the silver trumpets of Israel. 

We cannot pass in silence the book of Habakkuk, 
especially his ode, which seems to condense in a short 
compass the excellence and glory of prophetic poetry. 


From the realms of nature and the various sources of 
human feeling he seems to have extracted the very 
essence of poetry, and given it utterance in language of 
varied forms, grand then tender, sublime then beautiful, 
majestic then simple, stern and strong, and then flowing 
in liquid and brilliant harmonies. 

The Prophets of the Restoration had clear and bright 
hopes of the long expected Messiah, but they had none 
of the sublime spirit of poetry. Their light was like the 
ruddy glow on the evening cloud when the sun has set, 
and the twilight is gathering in thickning gloom over the 
valleys and the hills. Some of the sweet and plaintive 
Psalms are supposed to have been written after the 
Captivity. The Old Hebrew lyre had hung so long upon 
the willows of Babylon and sighed in the restless winds 
that its loftiest chords were broken, and when the few 
lingering delicate strings were touched by loving hands 
they only breathed forth subdued and weeping melodies, 
where once they had sounded with sublime and glorious 

How could Judah sing the songs of pride and rejoicing 
under circumstances of such deep sadness. A little 
remnant of old Israel had returned from long and painful 
captivity and servitude to their fatherland, desolated by 
the tread of the stranger and full of rude and hostile 
aliens. Ten of the tribes had been scattered in the distant 
East to return no more, and half of Judah and Benjamin 
had remained in the homes of the conquerors. The exiles 
had forgotten their sacred and noble language and could 
only utter the harsh and rugged accents of the Aramaic 
tongue. The Ark of the Covenant was gone; the light 
of the Shechinah shone no more above the mercy seat, the 
Urim was silent and the celestial fire no longer blazed upon 
the brazen altar. No wonder the priests, Levites and old 
men wept as they stood beside the foundations of the new 
temple and remembered Zion in her former glory. 

1 82 

We will not enter into the history of the post-exillian 
period although it is full of events of importance and of 
thrilling- interest. We have rejoiced too long amidst 
the light and beauty of the free intellectual and 
poetic life of the Old Hebrews to follow their descendants 
into their condition of sadness, degeneracy and gloom. 
The cohesiveness of the race was greatly lessened, and 
thousands of Jews voluntarily sought homes in the 
crowded marts of Alexandria, Antioch and other cities 
of the Mediterranean. The people became divided into 
various religious sects; everywhere local synagogues 
furnished convenient places of worship, and thus was 
greatly weakened the vivifying influence of the temple 
service; and the peace of the feeble and tottering State 
was often disturbed by internal dissensions and civil wars. 
The Jews were in the midst of the strifes and convulsions 
of surrounding nations, and were often swept over by 
the angry and desolating tides of conflict, and yet they 
maintained their peculiar civil and religious institutions 
for more than five hundred years when, as a nation they 
were completely overwhelmed and dispersed by the 
relentless power of Rome. But the light of their genius 
was not quenched, and the seeds of their civilization were 
carried on the currents of time to all lands, where they 
germinated and added to the rich, moral and intellectual 
harvests of succeeding ages. The Jewish state has been 
appropriately and vividly compared to a ship — mastless 
and rudderless, "tossed in the trough of the sea," its 
destruction continually threatened by the surging billows, 
and at last completely overwhelmed and its rich cargo 
scattered with the fragments of the wreck on the wild 
waves to be carried by currents and the restless winds, 
and stranded upon every island and every shore. 

The saddest but not least instructive chapters in history 
are those which record the declension and downfall of 
nations. The existence of nations has often been com- 

i8 3 

pared to the changing periods of a day. Nations have 
the misty glories of the morning, the splendors of the 
noontide and the varying hues of the setting sun, then 
they melt into the gloaming of the twilight and some 
darken into the almost impenetrable gloom of the 
oblivious midnight. 

The life of Greece was a brilliant day illumined with 
the light of genius and cultivated taste, and although her 
national power has passed away, still the golden glories 
of her intellectual sun-light beam in an after-glow of 
radiant beauty round her tomb. 

The long and eventful life history of Rome was a day of 
military power and intellectual achievements and had 
the sublimity and splendors of the storm, and was closed 
with the fierce tempests of Gothic invasion, which was 
followed by the murky darkness of the Middle Ages. 

The day of Hebrew national life dawned in mild and 
quiet beauty among the hills of Palestine and shed its 
celestial brightness amidst shifting shadows and varying 
clouds for more than ten centuries, and then the gloomy 
hours of the evening began with the Babylonish Captivity, 
and then for four hundred years came the deep brooding 
twilight, when a new sun rose upon the dark rim of the 
horizon to begin a new day that will never close in night, 
but continue to brighten the moral and intellectual world, 
carrying light, life and joy unto all the races of men, until 
it blends with the effulgent and eternal day of Heaven. 

The poetry of the Hebrews sprang from the soul of 
their free national and religious life, and when they 
became captives and slaves they seemed not to have 
breathed its highest inspirations. But the notes of 
majestic and pathetic harmony which once sounded from 
the Old Hebrew lyre is as immortal as the music of the 
spheres, and has swelled through the centuries of the past, 
and elevated and ennobled human thought in every age, 
and thrilled with joy and hope the hearts of mankind. 


Some of the Characteristics of Hebrew Poetry, 

In this lecture I propose to refer again to some of the 
characteristics of Hebrew poetry, to which I have here- 
tofore only briefly and incidentally alluded. 

I will not enter into the intricate mazes of theology or 
attempt to expound and interpret the profound oracles of 
divine truth. Neither will I present many quotations of 
beautiful phrases and verses from the Bible. I will not 
make selections of jewels of thought from the rich casket 
which you all have in your homes. I will not give you 
cups of sparkling water, when you can so readily refresh 
and invigorate your minds and hearts by drinking at the 
living fountains. 

An obvious characteristic of Hebrew poetry is concen- 
tration of thought. In it we find no elaborate discussion 
of a theme, no minute description of a scene. It often 
repeats and amplifies a sentiment in different words, but 
the language is always sententious and glowing. The 
illumination which it throws upon many obscure subjects 
is like the quick and vivid flashes of the lightning at 
night which for a moment reveal every object in the 
range of vision with the intensity of electric light. 
Many of the natural objects thus revealed by the light- 
ning are at once recognized and comprehended by the 
beholder, while others are like shadowy phantoms, 
vanishing in succeeding gloom, which the clear and 
steady light of the ensuing day discloses as real objects 
of utility and beauty. 

Thus there are many truths by the Hebrew bards which 
when first uttered found their way to the minds and hearts 


of the hearers, while others seemed grand and shadowy 
and inspired feelings of indefinable reverence and awe. 
Many of these old mysteries have been cleared away by 
the revelations and teachings of the Gospel and by the 
events of succeeding ages. We feel well assured that 
the time will come when every page and verse of Moses 
and the Prophets will glow with the clear light of truth 
and with immortal beauty to the believing mind and 
pious heart as they did to the fervid hearts of Cleopas and 
his companion as they walked and talked with the risen 
Christ on the way to Emmaus. 

There are verses in the Bible which seem to be concen- 
trated expressions of thought and feeling, never losing or 
diminishing in vividness and beauty. Many of these 
verses have furnished materials and suggestions for 
numerous songs, poems and sermons, and still they have 
not been exhausted of their rich and abounding fullness. 
Like the widow's cruse of oil and handful of meal they 
ever furnish the bread of life. 

Hebrew poetry has a wonderful power and facility of 
adapting itself to the mental and moral capacities of all 
classes of men and to every condition of life. While it 
furnishes rich thoughts, sublime imagery and profound 
wisdom to the highest and most cultivated intellect, it 
also whispers consolation and joy to the ignorant and the 
lowly. It is like the sunshine which not only enters the 
carved casements of palaces and the stained windows of 
gorgeous cathedrals, but also pours its joyous and inspir- 
ing light and warmth over the wild and solitary landscape 
and through the cracks of the cottage, and everywhere 
spreads beauty, fertility and gladness. We can account 
for this universality of influence in Hebrew poetry in no 
other way than by believing that it is animated by the 
spirit of an all-wise, beneficent and omnipotent Creator. 

Any one at all familiar with the literary productions of 
Christian nations will be forcibly struck with the pene- 

1 86 

trating and permeating power of Hebrew thought and 
language. You can scarcely read any book which 
teaches moral and physical truths which does not contain 
apt and forcible quotations and illustrations from the Old 
Testament. Even in works of fiction some of their most 
brilliant passages are tinged with the coloring of the old 
Hebrew mind. We find the gems of Hebrew thought 
and language giving force and beauty to grand orations 
which electrified Senates and forums or sounded from the 
tribune and roused the enthusiasm of the people and 
controlled the destinies of States. In all the intercourse 
of social, public and domestic life we continually hear or 
use passages from the Old Testament which point an 
argument, illustrate a proposition, call up some sweet 
memory, brighten some hope, purify some affection and 
elevate our noblest emotions. There are many verses in 
the Bible which like seraph voices seem to pervade the 
intellectual and moral world. Many of these verses are in 
themselves complete poems, and when recited alone 
teach important moral and spiritual truths, and although 
these various verses may be upon different subjects there 
exists between them the most perfect harmony. We 
may not be familiar with all these little poems, but when 
we first hear them we have no difficulty in recognizing 
them as parts of the Bible, as they all breathe its divine 
spirit. They are like certain sea-shells which anywhere 
and everywhere will murmur the music of their ocean 
home. There are many golden texts of scripture which 
linger in our hearts like strains of unforgotten melody 
and are associated with loved accents heard no more on 
earth but which, we believe, are mingling with the choirs 
of Heaven. Day by day, and year by year, we may 
gather these pearls and golden grains of divine truth and 
lay them up in the treasuries of mind and heart, but as 
we grow holier and wiser, we will feel like the great 
father of modern astronomy when he said " I have picked 

i8 7 

up a few pebbles on the strand, but the ocean is still to 
explore. " 

One of the highest evidences of the power and excel- 
lency of poetry, is the influence which it has had in 
hallowing and immortalizing the scenes, events and 
localities to which it has referred. The proud towers of 
Ilium were prostrated in the dust and the remnants of 
the nation scattered in exile over the earth, before the 
periods of authentic history but the Iliad and ^Eneid 
have given the heroes of Troy and its mound of ruins a 
classic immortality. Athens and republican and imperial 
Rome still live in the eloquence and songs of their chil- 
dren, and have received the veneration of twenty 
centuries. Scott and Burns have thrown around their 
rugged country a halo of rhythmic glory and made Scot- 
land dear to the hearts of the civilized world. They 
have made her old kirks and ruined castles, her placid 
lakes and shadowy glens; her flowery braes and misty 
moorlands, her heathery hills and rude highlands — - 
" haunted and holy ground;" while her rushing streams, 
wimpling burns and singing birds seem ever repeating 
the melodies of her matchless bards. 

The intelligent tourist as he passes along the castled 
Rhine or gazes upon the cloud capped Alps feels his 
imagination glowing with the inspiration with which 
poetry has enchanted the beauty and grandeur of nature. 
The pride and power of Venice have passed away, the 
fame of her Doges has been forgotten, stately argosies 
fill not her marts with the wealth and luxury of every 
clime, and her costly palaces no longer gleam in magnifi- 
cence and resound with strains of festal joy, but poetry 
and art have wreathed her brow with fadeless immortelles 
as in poverty and decay she rests in indolent repose on 
the bosom of her bridegroom sea, and dreams only of 
her former glories. I might refer to numerous other facts 
for the purpose of showing the hallowing and immortal- 


izing influence of poetry, but they will readily suggest 
themselves to your minds so familiar with the history of 

If we judge the writings of the Old and New Testa- 
ments by this standard of excellence we will find that 
they far exceed all the productions of human genius. 
They have immortalized every land to which they have 
referred. They have kept ancient Nineveh, Babylon and 
Tyre from the graves of oblivion, and thrown a hallowing 
charm over Egypt and the Nile, over the desolate 
mountains and barren sands of Arabia, over the ruins of 
Palmyra and the gardens of Damascus. 

The ruthless Roman destroyed the temple of Zion, 
levelled the walls of Jerusalem, and the persecuted 
remnants of Israel have been scattered like dust before 
the whirlwind; and for eighteen hundred years Palestine 
has been the Aceldama of nations; the home of poverty, 
suffering and sorrow, of injustice, ignorance and oppres- 
sion; but still it is the Holy Land, sacred to Mohamme- 
dan, Jew and Christian, and the names of its towns and 
cities, its hills and vales, mountains and plains, rivers 
and seas, groves and fountains are dear familiar household 
words in every clime where the Bible has been read, 
honored and loved. 

Another striking characteristic of Hebrew literature, 
to which I have already incidentally alluded, is, its 
marked and distinctive individuality, which is, in a great 
degree, preserved even in its translation into other 
languages. A German book translated into English 
may readily be mistaken by the general reader as the pro- 
duction of an English mind. An accomplished philologist 
may be able to discern some shades of thought or some 
idiomatic expressions peculiar to the fader -land, but in the 
general mass of literature the book loses its individuality. 
It is not so with the Bible. No philological research and 
acuteness are required to detect Bible thought and Ian- 

1 89 

guage. They may be introduced into every species of 
literature and give it force and beauty, but they never so 
completely commingle as to lose their characteristic 
identity. Bible expressions require no quotation marks 
to distinguish them. The Hebrew style of thought and 
expression always remain as peculiar and distinct among 
literatures as the Hebrew race among other peoples. 

The Jews mingle among all other peoples and yet 
they preserve a personal identity which distinguishes 
them as the seed of Abraham. With the exception of 
parts of the books of Ezra and Daniel, which were 
written in Chaldee, there is a wonderful similitude of 
thought and modes of expression among the writers of 
the Old Testament which were preserved for more than 
a thousand years through all of the eventful periods of 
Hebrew history. Some of the writers were more highly 
gifted than others in inspiration and natural genius, and 
the style of some was more elegant and rhythmical than 
that of others, but there were very few dialectical differ- 
ences in the construction of the language, and the 
vocabulary was not much enlarged and enriched. The 
written language seems to have been developed in 
force and vigor from the time it was first used by Moses 
and Job. In the times of David and Solomon it was 
somewhat improved in elegance and refinement by the 
superior genius of those princes and the master-singers 
of the temple — Asaph, Heman and Jeduthan — and in the 
age of the later prophets it manifested some feebleness 
and decline, but during its existence as a living language 
it remained unchanged in its essential elements. The 
reasons which produced this similitude of style and 
preserved the language from material changes must be 
obvious to all persons familiar with Hebrew history and 
the distinctive characteristics of the people. 

This unchangeableness of language and modes of 
thought does not exist in the same degree in any other 

i go 

national literature. The writings of Chauser differ 
from the productions of Tennyson, and the literatures of 
the intervening- periods distinctly show a dissimilarity of 
thought and language, and are filled with the peculiar 
characteristics of the several ages in which they were 
written. The people in those several ages differed as 
widely in manners and customs as in their literatures. 
It was not so with the Hebrews. The Hebrews of the 
exodus, in most respects, were like the Hebrews who 
went into Captivity. Among the Jews of the present 
day, dwelling in every land, there is. a striking physical 
and moral resemblance. A true personal description of 
a Jew of the Middle Ages would suit the Jew of the 
nineteenth century, and we have reasons for believing 
that in either age he was in many respects similar to the 
people who followed Joshua into Canaan. 

The Bedouins of the desert have retained the marked 
peculiarities of the sons of Ishmael for four thousand 
years and the same destiny has been accorded to the 
Isaaic descendants of Abraham. The Ishmaelites, dwel- 
ling amidst the fastnesses and dreary desolation of the 
desert, were inaccessible to the revolutionary influences 
of surrounding nations; but the Jews have been among 
all people, passed through the countless revolutions of 
decades of centuries, and while most of the other ancient 
races have been commingled, by conquests and other 
causes, and formed into new peoples, the Jews have 
preserved their national peculiarities. Thus the books of 
the Old Testament, which have been translated into so 
many different languages and been scattered over the 
whole earth, are the same in substance and spirit as when 
read before the Tabernacle, in the temples of Solomon, 
of Zerubbabel and of Herod, and in the Churches of 
Christendom for eighteen hundred revolutionary cen- 
turies. God has preserved His Word with the same care, 
that He has preserved the identity of his Works. 


The Heavenly hosts that poured the glory of their 
primal light over Eden, and upon which the Chaldean 
Magi gazed in reverent worship, have ever kept their 
unvarying orbits and shone with their unchanging 
splendors. Thus His Word to His spiritual Israel of 
every age and every race is the same in substance and 
spirit as that which He spoke to His chosen people whom 
He so long guarded and blessed in the Holy Land. 

In the literary structure of the Old Testament there 
are commingled human and divine elements which 
specially adapt it for purposes of instruction and guidance 
to mankind. The Bible is the inspired Word of God, 
written by holy men; but the language in which it is 
written is human speech, and the symbols, metaphors 
and illustrations used by the authors were derived from 
history, from the events of ordinary life and from familiar 
natural objects. We cannot disintegrate this mysterious 
combination of divinity and humanity, and separate by 
any accurate analysis these different elements. God has 
joined them in harmonious union and man cannot put 
them asunder. We know the combination exists, that 
it was effected by the Holy Spirit and was intended for 
wise and beneficent purposes. 

The incarnation of our Saviour and His love, sympathy 
and sorrow for man and His constant practice of the 
beautiful human virtues make Him so dear and lovely 
to the Christian heart, " God manifest in the flesh" is a 
sublime mystery, which not even the angels comprehend, 
but still this inscrutable mystery is full of consolation, joy 
and hope to all believers. 

We cannot understand the Trinity in Unity which we 
believe to exist in the Godhead. We cannot tell how 
the spiritual, moral, mental and physical natures of man 
are commingled into the great and harmonious problem 
of life. We cannot fathom the mysterious purposes and 
providences of God as He controls the destines of men 


and nations. There are thousands of mysterious combi- 
nations of different elements in the economy of nature 
which we do not, and never can understand, and yet we 
recognize their existence and experience their bene- 
ficence, and feel that they are the works of God. The 
Bible has many sublime mysteries which we cannot 
solve, but it is so full of pictures of human life accurately 
delineated, and it contains so many blessed truths that 
impress themselves with living power upon our minds 
and hearts, and which are so fully sustained by our 
observation and experience, that we receive these mys- 
teries with strong and holy faith and heed all the 
teachings as the Word of God. We cannot reasonably 
expect the finite mind to grasp the infinitude of God 
and fully comprehend Him in His word or in His works 
as He controls the ijlimitable universe by plans and pur- 
poses which exist from the eternity of the past and 
through the eternity of the future. 

There is an immortal vitality and power in the Bible 
which has preserved it through every danger and will 
make it completely triumphant over every obstacle. 
Those who fear that its influence will be overcome by 
human error have somewhat the timid spirit of the 
Spies who dreaded the earthly power of the sons of 
Anak, when the everlasting arms and sheltering wings 
of Jehovah were around and above His people Israel. 
When we know what wonderful achievements the Bible 
has already made, and what difficulties and dangers it 
has already successfully encountered, why should we 
have doubts as to its future progress, when so many 
increased facilities for its rapid advancement and diffusion 
are daily brought into operation by an overruling Provi- 
dence ? God has manifested His goodness and power 
in every period of history — His shining footprints are on 
all the sands of time, and shall we fear that He will- 
desert His people in their future progress and suffer the 


influences of His Word to be overcome by the powers of 
darkness. His word is clothed with the immortal armor 
of divine truth and can never be destroyed. 

We have a strong and abiding faith in the continued 
progress of intellectual, moral and spiritual development. 
We concur in none of the gloomy forebodings of those 
who would induce us to believe that our Christian civili- 
zation will retrograde and may some day become extinct. 
The history of the world shows that all the changes and 
revolutions of the past have been but preparatory for 
future events. Age has been linked to age, and in the 
struggles between good and evil which have existed in 
all times we can trace the slow but gradual development 
of God's moral government. There have been many 
dark eddies in the stream of human progress, but they 
seem to have added force and volume to the current in 
its onward flow, and is like a great river which grows 
broader, deeper and more majestic as it approaches the 
sea. If the governments and institutions of the ancient 
world have been destroyed we can readily understand 
the causes which produced such results. The civiliza- 
tions of the ancient nations — with the exception of the 
Hebrews — were founded in systems of force, wrong and 
oppression. Their governments were built up and 
sustained by the sword and they perished by the sword. 
Their social institutions were structures built upon the 
sand and have been swept away by the floods of time. 

These ancient systems of civilization acted and reacted 
upon each other, overturning empires and forming out of 
their ruins new political organizations, which were again 
subverted by disasters until absolute despotism over all 
mankind was established in the Roman Empire — the 
embodiment of violence, injustice and oppression — and 
from the dark deluge which overwhelmed this gigantic 
power sprang the modern world. 

We will not attempt even a sketch of the long conflict 


between ancient and Christian civilizations. Both seemed 
to be engulfed in the barbarism of the Middle Ages, 
but they were not completely destroyed. They both 
came forth purified from the terrible ordeal, and all the 
elements of ancient civilization worth preserving now 
adorn and give vigor to human advancement. The 
Reformation enunciated the higher and purer spiritual 
doctrines of Christianity and also the great and divine 
truths of civil, intellectual and religious freedom, which 
in some nations have been firmly established and in 
others they are still struggling with sure hopes of ulti- 
mate triumph. 

The principles of Christian civilization are derived 
from God's word, and they will endure as long as the 
everlasting hills which God has placed upon the granite 
foundations of the earth. The human mind has been 
emancipated by divine truth and can never again be 
enslaved, but will continually advance in enlightenment 
and power. Force, ignorance, injustice and oppression 
may still for a time darken the destiny of the human 
race, but they will pass away before the continually 
increasing influences of Christian civilization. 

In looking back over the history of human progress 
we have seen the misty, then ruddy twilight of the dawn, 
we have seen the Sun of Righteousness rising amidst the 
lurid storms of the morning, slowly scattering the dark 
clouds and lulling the fierce winds, and now we can look 
with the calm confidence of faith upon the more tranquil 
azure of advancing day, and may we not hope that our 
posterity will, at no distant age, dwejl amidst the bright- 
ness of the unclouded noon. . 


The Uninspired Poetry of the Hebrews. The 
Jews in History. Their Return to the Holy 

In preceding lectures we have very briefly and imper- 
fectly considered some of the characteristics of Hebrew 
literature. We fully believe that the Bible, written by 
the Hebrews and their Jewish descendants, is the primal 
source of true statesmanship and every wise system of 
laws. It is the Magna Charta of human liberty and the 
great peace-maker among men and nations. It binds 
society together by the ties of social charities and the 
kindly feelings of brotherhood. It kindles and keeps 
active the fires of love on the home altars and fills the 
sorrowing heart with hope and joy. It is the chief teacher 
of refined and elegant culture and the repository of the 
most pathetic and sublime poetry, and has exerted the 
highest influence upon the advancement of the civiliza- 
tion of mankind. 

Although the Old Testament is so full of inestimable 
truths, so rich in thought and wisdom and so much 
adorned with eloquence and poetry, we can but regret 
that the entire mass of Hebrew literature has not come 
down to our age. We have sufficient evidence for believ- 
ing that the Old Testament contains but a small poition 
of the rich, extensive and varied literature of the Hebrews 
that once cultivated the minds and enriched the thoughts 
and imaginations of the early oriental nations. We 
cannot be surprised at the scarcity of the literary remains 
of this ancient people when we remember that oblivion 
rests upon so much of the literatures of other nations of 
a subsequent age who were more closely connected with 


the history of modern times. We possess comparatively 
few of the productions of Grecian and Roman genius. 
The fable of the Sibyl seems to represent the fate of an- 
cient literature, of which only a few precious volumes have 
been left for the instruction and delight of mankind. 
The rude hands of the Vandal and Goth not only over- 
turned many of the palaces and temples of ancient 
Rome, but also destroyed a large portion of the treasures 
of ancient learning, art and poetry. We are informed 
that the Alexandrian library contained seven hundred 
thousand volumes, which the torch of Omar scattered in 
ashes over the desert. In every literature there were 
thousands of the productions of the human mind which 
exerted a beneficent influence in their age which have 
been lost forever in the whelming tides of time. 

We may well believe that a people as highly intellec- 
tual and imaginative as the Hebrews, with such a rich 
store of legendary memorials, and surrounded by so 
many influences which have produced poetic inspirations 
in other nations, must have had many odes and songs 
commemorative of past history, legends and traditions that 
existed among them during the period of their national life. 

Where are the thousand and five songs which Solomon 
wrote ? Where are many of the sublime utterances of 
Elijah and Elisha and other prophets who guided and 
instructed Israel ? The " Schools of the Prophets " were 
schools of poetry, music and polite learning, and must 
have produced many songs and poems of the highest 
excellence. Where are the simple and soothing lullabies 
of childhood, the joyous epithalamiums of the marriage 
feast and the sweet harmonies of the happy home ? 
Where are the plaintive elegies with which affection 
consecrated the graves of the loved and lost ? Where 
are the cheering songs of the vintage and harvest home, 
and the soul stirring odes with which patriotism celebrate 
ed the triumphs of national valor ? 

i 9 7 

The simple shepherd must have carolled many a sweet 
pastoral song as he sat beneath the fig-tree or spreading 
vine and watched the sportive gambols of the lambs of 
his flock and the lambs of his household upon the beau- 
teous greensward near the crystal fountain. 

The ardent Hebrew lover must have sung many a soul 
stirring lyric as he wooed the warm-hearted daughter of 
Shem; and the silence of the hazy twilight must often 
have been broken by the tender lays of the dark-eyed 
maiden of Israel, as like a nightengale, she breathed 
the minstrelsy of love upon the balmy breezes as they 
kissed the cheeks of the sleeping flowers. 

Our regrets for the loss of the uninspired poetry of the 
Hebrews are in vain. It must have contained many 
beautiful gems, which have gone down to the deep 
unfathomable caves of the deluge of time. Only the 
poetry that was vitalized by the spirit of divine inspiration 
has, like an ark, moved in safety amidst the wrecks and 
drifts of time over the stormy billows of the ages. 

The word and works of God are alike indestructible 
by force or time. We know that many of the objects in 
the material world are subject to disintegration and 
decay, but science informs us that not the smallest 
particle of matter has ever been annihilated. God has 
told us that not one jot or tittle of his word should fail. 
That word has been translated into various languages 
and although it may have thus lost to us some of the 
original literary elegancies with which it was adorned, it 
still teaches the loftiest truth and wisdom in language 
of wondrous melody and beauty, and touches the same 
sweet chords in the human heart which it touched three 
thousand years ago, and makes them thrill with glorious 

Man and time may change some of the features of 
nature, and form natural elements into new combinations, 
but they cannot dim the brightness of the sun, or turn 


the shining planets from their orbits; they cannot control 
the swelling tides of the ocean, or remove from their 
deep foundations the everlasting hills. Thus the word of 
God will endure forever, have free course and be glorified 
in fulfilling its divine mission. God has preserved as 
much of the history and literature of the chosen people 
as was necessary for the guidance and instruction of 
mankind, and this record will remain unchangeable and 
indestructible. He has' also wonderfully preserved the 
identity of His chosen people. 

Their history is eventful, peculiar and full of sadness. 
They forgot the sacred covenant, rejected and crucified 
their Messiah, and their beautiful house was brought to 
desolation — not one stone left upon another — and for more 
than eighteen centuries they have been outcasts and 
exiles from the land of their fathers and' their sacred 
and ruined altars. 

•' The wild dove hath her nest, the fox his cave, 
Mankind their country, Israel but the grave." 

The story of the Wandering Jew is a fit representation 
of the destiny of the race. It is said that he offered 
indignities to Christ while on the way to Calvary and 
was cursed with an immortality of wandering and suffer- 
ing. He is represented in the legend as visiting every 
part of the earth in his endless pilgrimage; always weary 
but never resting; mingling in society without receiving 
any of its love, comforts or blessings; passing unharmed 
through torrid heat and arctic winter; through the storms 
of the ocean and the dangers of the land; through the 
carnage of battle-fields, the blazing ruins of sacked cities, 
and the charnel houses of the pestilence, always seeking 
destruction but never destroyed; he seems to have had 
nothing of life but the anguish of suffering, and all of 
death but the rest and quietude of the grave. 

Thus the Jews, since the destruction of their Holy City, 
have been outcasts and wanderers. They are found in 

i 9 9 

all periods of history mingling with other races and 
always remaining a separate and peculiar people. They 
are to be found in every clime, and the tireless foot of 
the Jew has trod every shore. They have been succes- 
ful in collecting the riches of commerce and controlling 
the finances of the world. They have entered every 
grade in society from the hovel of the peasant to the 
palaces of nobles and kings. They have led conquering 
armies, and with thrilling eloquence commanded the 
applause of listening senates, and as powers behind the 
throne, have directed victorious legions and controlled 
the jurisprudence and diplomacy of States. They have 
guided the advancing march of civilization and have 
ever been the earnest advocates of social order, freedom 
and justice. 

During the supremacy of the Moors in Spain, the Jews 
for eight centuries found a home and protection in that 
land of sunny skies, fertile plains and vine-clad hills, 
almost as beautiful as their motherland; and by their 
talent, learning, industry and energy greatly assisted in 
building up a civilization in the splendid cities of Anda- 
lusia whose intellectual light and glory have scarcely yet 
been excelled in human progress. But the time for their 
permanent rest from wandering and freedom from perse- 
cution had not yet come. The bigotry and fanaticism of 
Ferdinand and Isabella drove them from their new 
Palestine and scattered them again amongst the nations, 
and a gloom of ignorance, superstition and despotism 
settled upon that devoted land which has not yet been 
dispersed by the glowing light of modern civilization. 

The sacred books of the Hebrews, which contain but a 
portion of the learning, wisdom and genius of the race, 
have given religions, laws and the highest literatures to 
the civilized nations of the world. They have given 
vitality, cohesiveness and power to Islam and much of 
the elevating, enlightening and civilizing spirit of Chris- 


tianity. In all the noble contests of the human mind 
against prejudice, oppression and wrong, and in the 
progressive advancement of mankind towards enlighten- 
ment, truth, freedom, justice and right, their"sacred books 
have led the vanguard, even as the pillar of cloud and 
fire led the wanderings of their forefathers through the 
wilderness to the Promised Land. 

The history of four thousand years shows the Hebrews 
to be not only the oldest but one of the noblest and most 
enduring races of men. In all the departments of learning 
and intellectual effort, in creative genius and cultivated 
taste they have stood as peers with the most gifted of the 
sons of men. They have won some of the richest trophies 
in the fields of science and philosophy, added invaluable 
treasures to literature, beautified the noblest galleries of 
art, and thrilled the hearts of mankind with strains of 
the loftiest melody. 

There is something sublime in the spiritual solitude of 
the Jew. He mingles freely in all species of business, 
and sometimes enters into familiar social intercourse, but 
still there is a penetralia in his heart to which no Gentile 
influence can obtain access. There he enshrines the 
tenets of his religious faith and the enduring love of his 
fatherland, clustered round with memories and hopes 
which are undimmed by disappointments and unshaken 
by disasters; and how earnestly and continuously does 
his heart breathe the prayer of the Psalmist, 

" Oh ! that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion ; when 
the Lord bringeth back the captivity of His people, Jacob shall 
rejoice and Israel be glad." 

"Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion, build thou the walls of 

What natural principles and elements could have 
produced such a national phenomenon as the Jews, having 
no parallel in history. God does nothing without some 
purpose and " He hath not dealt so with any nation." 
He is fulfilling the sublime prophecy which He spoke 


more than three thousand years ago through the unwilling 
lips of Balaam. m 

" Lo, the people shall dwell alone 
And shall not be reckoned among the nations." 

He has preserved this remarkable people in their 
distinctive character and nationality to accomplish some 
great end in the future. The Jews are as numerous now 
as the Hebrews were when Joshua led them into Canaan. 
Among all nations they are remarkable for their thrift, 
industry and commercial energy, and for them the 
streams of trade seem to flow over golden sands. They 
have generously cared for their indigent people, and the 
name of a Jew is never found on the lists of pauperism. 
They generally practice the virtues of temperance and 
chastity and observe most of the duties of citizenship. 

When we consider the insults, vexations, wrongs and 
oppressions which they have endured; the cruelties and 
calamities which they have suffered; the scorn, contumely 
and contempt which have been heaped upon them in 
every age of modern times, by Pagan, Moslem and 
Christian, by serf, freemen and king, we cannot be sur- 
prised that many of them have exhibited the vices of avarice, 
hypocracy, cunning and deceit. These vices were learned 
by the Jews in the schools of their bitter experiences as 
the only means of self-preservation and protection, and 
we are surprised that in passing through such a terrible 
ordeal they have preserved so many of the human virtues. 
Until a recent period they have scarcely found a land 
that afforded them a secure home and the equal benefits 
of its laws, and could they be expected to love a country 
in which they were oppressed and regarded as aliens and 
outlaws ? They have scarcely ever mingled with a people 
who extended to them the sympathies of human brother- 
hood, or the courtesies and amenities of ordinary social 
intercourse, and could they reasonably be expected to 
exhibit the highest social virtues and charities in return 


for distrust, scorn and reproach ? Has the conduct of 
Christian nations in their continual strifes and revolutions — 
deluging the earth with all the sins and sorrows of war — 
been well calculated to inspire the Jew with admiration 
for our Christian institutions, and give him confidence in 
our sincerity and reverence for the religion which we 
profess, and which teaches as a primal doctrine, "On earth 
peace, good will toward men ?" 

The unparalleled problem presented in the social, 
political and intellectual condition of the Jews can be 
solved in no other rational way than by attributing the 
highest principles of Conservatism to their religious faith, 
and by supposing that still, for some wise and beneficent 
purpose, The Lord of Hosts is with them, the God of 
Jacob is their refuge. ■ 

The dark and cruel prejudices of eighteen hundred 
years are passing away before the advancing light of a 
purer and holier Christianity and a nobler civilization, 
and the political skies of the Jews are brightening around 
them. In most civilized countries they are no longer 
subjected to tortures and oppressions, but receive the 
protection and benefits of the laws; and in England and 
in the United States they enjoy as much freedom as their 
ancestors did in the palmy days of the Hebrew common- 
wealth. Profane history furnishes no information by 
which we can account for the long preserved and distinctive 
existence of the Jews, and it fails to afford any light in 
forecasting their religious and political future. On this 
subject we must look to the books of prophecy and the 
blessed promises of the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, 
God alone can solve the mysterious problem of Jewish 

As God in His corrective providences has dealt sorely 
with the Jews, so He has dealt with the beautiful land 
which He gave to their fathers as a habitation and 
inheritance. Both the people and their land are witnesses 


of the curse of the broken covenant, of Jehovah's right- 
eous judgments and of the truths of divine prophecy. 

Once this land was garnished with all the lavish 
bounties of nature and was filled with abundance, but 
now it is barren like a desert, and her beauty and fertility 
have been trodden down by oppressors and strangers. 
Once it teemed with a free, intelligent, industrious and 
prosperous population whose homes were flourishing 
hamlets, ancient towns and splendid cities, but now it is 
sparsely inhabited by slothful peasants, decrepid beggars, 
dejected slaves and vicious robbers, dwelling in miserable 
villages in filth and poverty. Its cities are wasted and 
its sanctuaries brought to desolation — it is a field of rubbish 
and ruins. How truly has the prophecy been fulfilled: 
*' Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with 
fire, your land strangers devour it in your presence, and 
it is desolate as overthrown by strangers." "And the 
daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a 
lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city." 

As God has kept the Jews in all ages and in the midst 
of all nations a separate and peculiar people, so has He 
kept the land which He gave their fathers from being the 
distinctive home of any other nationality. It was over- 
run by the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, 
Greeks and Romans, and in succeeding ages by still 
greater destroyers, the Arabians, Saracens, Crusaders, 
Mamelukes, Tartars and Turks, but to none of these 
nations and races has it been a permanent and prosperous 
home. Palestine seems to have ever been conscious of 
and responded to the undying love of her exiled and 
scattered children; and for centuries in dust and ashes 
she has mourned for their absence, their sorrows and 

Since her bereavement she has put off her beautiful 
garments and clothed herself in the habiliments of sorrow 
and woe. Her breezes are no longer balmy with their 


former delicious perfumes and she smiles no more in 
fresh and dewy verdure. Many of her gushing springs, 
musical rills and singing birds are silent, and many of 
the beauteous wild flowers that bloomed on her bosom 
have faded. The stately forests that once crowned her 
mountains with regal pride and glory, and the fruitful 
fig trees, olives and vines that mantled her hillsides have 
been trodden down by the Gentiles; and golden harvests 
no longer wave in her valleys and over her plains ready 
to fill storehouses of plenty. The sound of tabret, viol 
and harp are not heard in festive homes and the voices 
of rejoicing are all at rest. Her once crowded highways 
are desolate and her now barren fields are not covered 
with flocks and herds, and resound not with the blithesome 
songs of the vintage and harvest. Once with maternal 
fondness she lavished rich blessings upon her children, 
and now that they are gone she refuses to bestow boun- 
ties upon the oppressors and heedless strangers. She 
will put on her glorious apparel no more or yield her 
hidden treasures until the set time to favor Zion shall 
come, and the outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of 
Judah shall be gathered into the dwellings of Jacob. 

The restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land is 
distinctly foretold in prophecy, but the time of its accom- 
plishment is known only to God. We fully believe that 
the Jews will in some coming age recognize the Messiah 
promised unto their fathers, and with pride and holy joy 
will acknowledge the truth of the superscription placed 
by the infamous Pilate in mockery on the Cross, " Jesus 
of Nazareth, the King of the Jews," and will see the 
truth and beauty of the prophecy: He shall be "a light to 
lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel. 

When that grand event shall occur then the time of 
the Gentiles will be fulfilled, "And the ransomed of the 
Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs and 
everlasting joy upon their heads v they shall obtain joy 


and gladness and sorrow, and sighing shall flee away." 
They shall come from the four corners of the earth and 
from the islands of the sea and be gathered into the 
land long since promised unto Abraham and his seed 
forever, and there show forth the praises of the Lord. 

" The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and 
the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose." " It shall blossom 
abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon 
shall be given unto it — the excellency of Carmel and Sharon ; they 
shall see the glory of the Lord and the excellency of our God." 

Then all the blue mountains of Israel shall put off their 
garments of desolation — be crowned with garlands of 
vines, fruits and flowers, and grow green with pastures. 
The hills on every side shall be covered with flocks and 
herds, and shall flow with milk and honey, and the valleys 
become fat with wine and oil and abundant harvests. 
The fountains and streams and birds and trees and 
breezes, with songs of rejoicing, will join in the glorious 
jubilate that welcomes the return of the redeemed exiles 
of Israel to the "goodly land" of Promise. Then the 
waste places of Jerusalem shall be built up, the place of 
the sanctuary shall be beautified, and the place of His 
feet be made glorious, and again shall she be " beautiful 
for situation, the joy of the whole earth." Then the 
daughters of Zion shall arise from the dust and put on 
their beautiful garments and have beauty for ashes, the 
oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for 
the spirit of heaviness. Then the poets of Israel will wake 
again the long, silent Hebrew lyre to sing in the lofty 
strains of Christian millennial joy, the fulfilment of those 
divine promises and purposes which the Old Hebrew 
Bards saw in the glorious visions of prophecy three 
thousand years ago. 



The Sessions will commence on the First Monday in 
January and Third Monday in August, and terminate the 
Second Monday in June and December. 


$80.00 for entire course, or $50.00 per session, to be 
arranged in advance. 

There will be six examinations and lectures each 

Board can be obtained in private families at from 
$12.00 to $16.00 per month. 

Course of Study. 

Blackstone's Commentaries (2d book) diligently. 
Coke, Cruise, or some other standard work on Real 

Stephen and Chitty on Pleading. 
Adams' Equity and 1st Greenleaf on Evidence. 
Some standard work on Executors and Administrators 
Code of Civil Procedure. 





The Greensboro Law School, 


U. S. District Jiidge. 


C. F. Thomas, Book and Job Printer. 


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